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Our Coffee House: 50 Years of Home Cooking

By Dateline Staff on May 8, 2018 in University

The ASUCD Coffee House, 50 years old this year, throws itself a four-day anniversary party next week, May 14-17, with staff members wearing the styles of decades past and playing the music of those eras — all the while serving up the home cooking that UC Davis has loved since 1968.

50th Coffee House logoBesides Decade Days (the ’90s on Monday, ’80s on Tuesday, ’70s on Wednesday and ’60s on Thursday), the week will also include a speaker series with CoHo crew alumni, Monday through Wednesday (May 14-16), starting with Joe Sasto, a Los Angeles chef who also has participated in TV cooking competitions (Top Chef most recently).

“The entire CoHo team is extremely excited to celebrate 50 years on the UC Davis campus,” said Darin Schluep, CoHo career staff since 2000 and the director since 2012. (He started his Coffee House career even before earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2006.)

Today’s team is also quite proud of continuing the CoHo tradition of providing inexpensive, made-from-scratch meals that have become part of UC Davis history (think chicken tetrazzini!).

East Hall, black and white
East Hall

The Coffee House began as a sawdust-on-the-floor, Bohemian-style café in the old East Hall (where Dutton Hall stands today), moved to the east wing of the Memorial Union in 1973 and eventually to the west side of the MU in 1990, becoming a multiplatform dining destination serving more than 8,000 customers daily.

When it opened, the CoHo had an all-student staff, and it’s pretty much the same today — only with a lot more of them (350-plus) and a full-time staff of seven. Next week’s speakers series pays tribute to all of the CoHo’s hard-working students — past, present and future — by bringing back three staff alums to talk about the CoHo’s role in their lives as students and in their careers.

Each talk is scheduled from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the CoHo’s southwest dining room; admission is free and open to the public. Here are the speakers:

Speakers combo
Top: Adams-Falconer with President Obama.
Bottom: Harris, left, and Sasto.
  • Monday, May 14 — Joe Sasto ’10, kitchen supervisor, Bachelor of Arts degree in communication. He took first place in an episode of Food Network’s Chopped in 2016, and went on to appear in Season 15 of Bravo TV’s Top Chef, last winter, coming in third. He is the executive chef at Cal Mare in Los Angeles.
  • Tuesday, May 15 — TJ Adams-Falconer ’13, barista supervisor, Bachelor of Arts in communication. He is a strategic communications consultant in Washington, D.C., where he previously worked as media affairs manager in the Obama administration.
  • Wednesday, May 16 — Karina Harris ’10, kitchen staff, Bachelor of Arts in communication. She is the founder and chief executive officer of Waffles & Honey Jewelry, named after her childhood pets. She opened the online store in the fall of 2013 after her passion for collecting and designing jewelry grew into a small business.
Crew at work in Coffee House kitchen
Meals made from scratch in the Coffee House kitchen.

50th anniversary reception

The anniversary week also includes a reception for all Coffee House student employees and career staff, past and present, to celebrate the CoHo’s impact and historical importance on the UC Davis campus. Speakers will include Bob Black, ASUCD president when the CoHo was founded; and Sharon Coulson, who retired in 2012 after nearly 30 years as the CoHo director.

The reception is scheduled from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Thursday, May 17, in the CoHo’s southwest dining room. Food and beverages (from the CoHo, of course) will be provided. Please RSVP by sending an email to Darin Schluep, or call him at 530-752-3385.

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About the author(s)

Dateline Staff Dave Jones, editor, can be reached at 530-752-6556 or Cody Kitaura, news and media relations specialist, can be reached at 530-752-1932 or