Fresh baked cookies are a hit at The Grind

By Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief

If you’ve wandered through the Dugan Library some mornings and found yourself completely seduced by the sweet smell of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, you are not alone.

Fresh baked cookies have become a bit of a staple at the Newman Grind ever since the siblings behind the counter, Angie Matej and Susan Rhea, had the idea to shake things up a bit at the campus coffee shop.

The new sweet treats at the Grind are the product of a bit of crossover between the coffee shop and the main dining center on campus, Matej said.

“They had the frozen cookie dough back in the kitchen, so it was like, ‘Why can’t we do it here? The students would like it,’ and they do seem to like it,” Matej said.

These sisters are no strangers to food service or to keeping customers satisfied.

Matej said she started working in the industry when she was in college, while Rhea said she started food service when she was 12.

The sisters worked together later at the Wichita Country Club. Matej started working for Great Western Dining at Newman after her retirement from Westar Energy three years ago, and Rhea joined the team just one year later. Even after all these years, Matej said, they still aren’t sick of working together.

“We’ve worked together long enough we know what needs to be done. We don’t ever fight. We just get to it and do it,” Matej said.

The sisters are often found working behind the counter at the Newman Grind when they aren’t catering for large on-campus events.

Matej and Rhea said their favorite part of working at the Newman Grind is that they get to build relationships with the faculty and students who pass through.

“They’re easy, they’re kind, and we haven’t had any problems. They’re very patient and very pleasant,” Matej said.

The sisters say because they had such a great experience working with students and faculty, they wanting to get creative to find extra ways to make the Grind better for everyone.

When the Scooter’s closed, Rhea said, they were left without the machinery to make a lot of the old drinks that the old coffee shop offered.

“Yeah, we can’t make the frappe stuff or the lattes… But we thought, hey, we can make cookies, and we can make chili,” Rhea said.

Lately, the Grind has been expanding it’s menu, introducing specials like chili, chicken and noodles, and hot dogs.

“Well, we wanted to bring a variety of choices to students and faculty compared to what they had,” Rhea said.

But by far the most popular items they sell, Matej said, are the fresh baked cookies. Chocolate chunk is the most popular followed by while chocolate macadamia nut then double chocolate.

“We hear a lot of nice things about it. People hurry in the morning to check and see if we have fresh cookies yet,” Matej said. “They can smell them out in the hall.”

The new options have been a hit with commuter students like Jack Schafer who do not have meal plans on campus.

“The double chocolate cookies were freaking amazing… I will definitely pay for a package or two of those next time I go through,” Schafer said.

PHOTO: Courtney Klaus, Editor-In-Chief.