When Colgate and the Hamilton Initiative began operating the Barge Canal Coffee Company in 1996, their goal was to provide an alcohol-free social space for students and the Hamilton community while operating a viable business.
Now, the Barge has become such a success that premier coffee company Saxbys Coffee will build on this strong foundation and provide its expertise to renovate the café this summer. The revamped café, Saxbys at the Barge, will be open later this summer.
The Barge’s history as a village fixture makes it a natural fit for Saxbys, as the company tailors each café to reflect the surrounding community and is committed to community service.
With a company mission to “Make Life Better,” Saxbys ensures that each of its 30 cafés has an inviting atmosphere, high quality products, and above all, unparalleled guest engagement. The company currently enjoys a presence in eight college towns.
In Hamilton, Saxbys will preserve the Barge’s inclusive atmosphere and culture while investing in a significant renovation of the physical space at 37 Lebanon St.
Current manager Judy Schenk, who has been a crucial part of the Barge’s team since its opening, will continue in her role. Saxbys will work closely with Schenk and all future team members, who will serve Saxbys’ diverse menu, including the newly launched cold brew iced coffee, smoothies, and made-to-order sandwiches and soups.
“Saxbys is a great fit for the Barge’s Colgate and Hamilton clientele,” said Joanne Borfitz, vice president for community affairs and auxiliary services at Colgate. “And the company will be a valuable community partner. They will bring not only great coffee and a welcoming place to relax or socialize, they will help draw people to the village and into other local businesses. By choosing Hamilton for its next location, Saxbys pays us a great compliment.”
Nick Bayer, CEO and founder of Saxbys Coffee, said, “We could immediately tell that the Barge was a special place for the entire Hamilton community, and that’s something we work hard to achieve at every Saxbys café. We’re excited for the opportunity to revitalize the space as Saxbys at the Barge and to build on our experience to make the café all the more welcoming.”
Over nearly two decades, The Barge Canal Coffee Company has grown to become a community asset, offering coffee, teas, and popular food options. It has showcased local and national musicians and other artists and has been a comfortable home where senior citizens can read the day’s paper alongside college students and professors working on their laptops and toddlers playing with toys.
Saxbys is committed to maintaining this environment, and to hosting creative programming and evening hours.
The change of ownership coincides with the June 30 end of Colgate’s lease on the space. The Barge will be closed for renovations from July 21 to August 11. Saxbys will honor all gift certificates and Barge tokens.