Joseph Family Spa gains popularity over the years
Students gather at the Joseph Family Spa to curb their appetites at 1 a.m. on a Saturday night with quesadillas, french fries and nachos.
Ask the students on campus how they feel about the Spa and they will most likely all answer the same way: they love it. Students on the Hill love the quesadillas, sweet potato fries and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, but they love its atmosphere even more. They love that it’s a place where they can work or hang out with friends, and they love the people who work there everyday.
The Joseph Family Spa, which has been a fixture on the campus since the 1950s, was first owned by Joe Joseph and originally shared a space with the bookstore located on the ground floor of Miller Library. When Joe passed away in 1954, his brothers John and Peter took the reins of the business.
As the Spa’s popularity grew over the years, it changed to accommodate the increased crowd locations several times. It first moved from the ground floor of the library to the basement in Roberts, and then relocated to the space that now houses the Marchese Blue Light Pub. Finally, as a result of the renovations of Cotter Union in May 2007, the Spa moved to its current location.
The Joseph brothers employed many Colby students during their years as owners of the Spa, and in doing so formed lifelong friendships. Al Joseph ’54, the fourth Joseph brother, said, “It was through these friendships that the naming of the ‘Spa’ to the Joseph Family Spa became a reality.”
He added that part of the reason behind the name “the Spa” is the fact that it serves as “a place for relaxation and invigoration and a perfect retreat from life’s daily stresses.”
Dave Hartley, manager of the Spa and the Pub, has held his position since the completion of the 2007 renovations. He values his time working at the Spa because it allows him to get to know customers: “what their regular orders are, who their family is and what their interests are.”
“It’s incredible to hear about [students’] experiences, see them grow and mature and be a part of students’ first experience away from home,” Hartley said. “We have the rare experience to make that an easy adjustment.”
The staff, Hartley said, “are excellent.” Indeed, five or six employees have won the Circle of Customer Excellence Award during their time at the Spa. Sodexo presents The Circle of Customer Excellence Award once a month to an on-campus Sodexo employee. Although the staff are proud of these awards, they place much more value on their lasting bonds with students on the Hill.
Like Hartley, Becky Sugden has been working at the Spa since its 2007 reopening; she has won the Circle of Customer Excellence Award twice. As the Cook Four at the Spa she both cooks and serves as production manager, overseeing food production and the creation of special menus.
“I love my job,” Sugden said. “Before I came here I was in Dana. It feels so much more intimate working here than Dana. [Here] I learn what everyone eats….We care about everyone that comes.”
She expressed sentiments similar to Hartley, stating that she and her co-workers enjoy “being able to bring comfort to people, and make sure that they’re not overlooked. We’re getting busier and busier every year, and that’s a testament.”
Spencer Gopaul ’13, one of two students working at the Spa this semester, said, “It’s a lot of fun working here. The staff is really accommodating and fun.” However, just like the rest of the staff, what he enjoys most about his job “is talking with all the students who come every day for a quick snack.”
Since the Spa’s popularity is at an all-time high, many of the College’s students have been asking why last year’s extended hours on Friday and Saturday nights are no longer in effect.
Hartley said that the Spa’s newly reduced hours are not a result of staffing or budget problems. Rather, the later hours did not carry over into this year because they “jeopardized the safety of students” and “compromised the quality of the service.”
After 1:00 a.m., students came back from the “local bars and there would be people on tables dancing, climbing poles—risky behavior,” Hartley said.
When asked about what it’s like to work late nights in the Spa, Hartley said it “can be both entertaining and annoying. People taking food that isn’t theirs compromises service but it can be entertaining—the students are having a good time, and it’s a fun environment to be working in.”
Sugden also said that on weekend nights she feels the “interactions are more relaxed” and that things become even more “personal”—employees form relationships with students that they carry over into their day shifts and everyday lives.
Hartley, whose favorite Spa meal is the Sugarloafer, and Sugden, whose favorite meal is, naturally, Becky’s Flatbread Chicken Sandwich, are just two employees among many with whom you should be acquainted with.
They bake fresh cookies daily, make anywhere between 100 to 125 quesadillas a day, and they want to get to know you.