JACKSON, Tenn. – March 7, 2008 – Barefoot’s Joe, Union’s redone student lounge, had its grand opening March 1 with students, faculty and staff members attending to celebrate the new coffee shop as a symbol of campus unity.
David S. Dockery, Union University president, spoke at the event to dedicate Barefoot’s Joe.
“It’s a very special night at Union University at the dedication of Barefoot’s Joe, which is the coolest place on campus, that’s for sure,” Dockery said. “We dedicate this building for its use and enjoyment that all we do will be to the honor and glory of Jesus Christ.”
Hyran Barefoot, former Union president and namesake for the lounge, and his wife Joyce mingled with students and addressed the crowd. An avid coffee drinker himself, he spoke about an additional benefit of the lounge.
“Who said the storm couldn’t blow in something marvelous and good like this wonderful place for students to hang out?” Barefoot said. “I know grades will just shoot up now.”
The idea for a coffee shop on campus began last semester, but time and money prevented construction. After the tornado on Feb. 5, Dean of Students Kimberly Thornbury recognized the pressing need for a place on campus where students could fellowship. Remodeling began Feb. 11, and a team of students, staff members and others worked 16-hour days to complete the project as soon as possible.
Joy Moore, director of student programs, and Matt Brunet, director of wellness services, were the staff members in charge of the process.
“Within days of the tornado, our staff recognized that students needed a place to go,” Moore said. “It’s just a tribute to Dr. Dockery and his staff that within days of the tornado they were at work to put this campus back together.”
Barefoot’s Joe will serve coffee and tea for a dollar, and flavored syrups can be added for 50 cents. During the week, the coffee shop will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., and at nights on the weekend. Students can add money on their Dawg Tag at Union Station, and can swipe their card at the lounge.
With completely redone floors, walls and ceiling, the coffee shop has a sleek lounge appearance with an acid wash concrete floor and mint green walls. On the back wall, student art work is displayed and will rotate throughout the semester. Furnished with leather couches and chairs, a unique bench on the front wall is a reminder of the tornado. Bricks from the Watters housing complex were used to create the feet for the bench, preserving some of the old in the midst of the new.
Brock Starnes, a junior business major who originally approached Thornbury about creating the on-campus lounge, said it is a reflection of good coming from the storm.
“It’s neat to have this amidst all the rubble,” Starnes said. “It’s great something like this was birthed through all the damage.”
By Heidi Steinrock ('09) and Megan McMurry ('09)