Ivy Shen in front of her café-to-be.© Roelof Kleis
‘Everyone’s life should be getting a bit better here’, explains Chinese entrepreneur Ivy Shen, who recently turned to the hospitality branch. ‘Yes, for me too’, she chuckles. MLGB is the first business she is starting. And she is somewhat nervous, she admits. She does have experience in the hospitality business. ‘I worked part-time in cafés and restaurants. Many Asians work in the hospitality branch.’ But her training, senior secondary vocational education for airport assistant, seemed to lead to a very different career.
The step toward her own business in Wageningen was taken with the help of a good friend, a WUR student who would rather remain anonymous herself. Shen: ‘We saw there was still space left for a café in Plaza. That’s when the idea arose: could we start a student café right there? A spot where students can get together and meet after a day’s study. According to my friend, there really is a need for such a spot.’
No real cafés
Well, yes: there is a grand café in Forum, and Orion has The Spot. But according to Shen, those are not real cafés as they are not open all night. MLGB will primarily be open six days a week, from 10:00 in the morning until (no later than) 02:00 at night. The target audience is the student community. ‘The concept will be adapted to their lifestyle and needs. This means we will organise games nights, movie nights and speed dates. And we are open to additional suggestions from the students.’
According to Shen, students can go there for a fun night at the café or for a bite at one of the fifteen tables of the restaurant. Furthermore, the space can be rented for graduation parties. Shen believes there is a great need for such a space on campus.
The restaurant of MLGB will serve sushi. ‘There already is Chinese and Italian food at Plaza’, Shen explains. ‘We want something different; something that is sustainable and healthy.’ The sustainable part should become apparent from the choice of ingredients. Shen: ‘Those will be as sustainable as possible, as that befits WUR, and because students care about that.’ The prices will also be adjusted to the student’s wallets. And Shen would like to have students who want to earn some additional money working in service.
The look and feel of MLGB will be ‘industrial and postmodern’. ‘With a lot of dark grey, brown wooden tables and metallic chairs.’ She cannot show any sketches yet, as it all still is in her head. Renovations have started this week and will last until 20 August. ‘But we will not officially open until 1 September. Once the paperwork will have been arranged.’ That is one thing she had miscalculated. ‘It all takes quite some time.’