Pitzer Spotlights

2007-2008 Spotlight Archives

The Shakedown Cafe: Pitzer's Student-Run Organic Eatery

The Shakedown Café Managers: Dane Pollock ’08, Gabe Guerrero ’08, Alden Towler ’08, Josh Lipkowitz ’08 and Fred Beebe ’08

Brian Dolphin ’09 performs in the Shakedown Café located in the Gold Student Center.

“You may not make it over to Pitzer much or you may be a regular on the Mounds, but there is something that you need to know. There are people over here who are crazy. Legitimately crazy about food. Call them food experimentalists if you want. Culinary wizards if you will, but the Shakedown Café is showing you tastes you never knew existed,” says Fred Beebe '08.

The Shakedown Café, Pitzer's own student-run organic eatery, is located upstairs in the Gold Student Center. The Shakedown has been very successful since its opening in Spring 2007 by Fred Beebe '08, Gabe Guerrero '08, Josh Lipkowitz '08, Dane Pollock '08 and Alden Towler '08 . It was a joint effort, but the idea was first conceived by Gabe, as Dane remembers it.

“It was Gabe's idea. He used to work here when it was the Mandarin, and had always wanted to make it a different environment. Last fall this space was not being used, so we all had a meeting and started throwing around ideas. We worked on the plan for four to six weeks before everything came together,” Dane explained.

It was not difficult for the five managers to get the go ahead from Pitzer administrators as they are very supportive of their students. The Shakedown is a perfect example of how Pitzer is a student-oriented campus where the voice and actions of students are very visible.

According to Josh, “The Shakedown is an entirely student thing . . . the students [us] believed in the idea, came up with a concrete plan and made it real. I hope that this place gets passed on and changes and transforms every year. Anyone can and has the opportunity to add to this place.”

The Shakedown is open Sunday through Thursday from 6 to 11 p.m. The café's menu items have been carefully chosen and planned.

“Our menu items have all been inspired by our love for food, world cuisine and ethnic foods. The menu was also born out of wanting to try new things. Most restaurants have a set list without much variation, but we try to bring in new dishes that have not been thought of such as our ginger mash potatoes with kale,” Dane said.

Enjoying a meal at the Shakedown Cafe.

All five managers have done a significant amount of traveling and have brought what they learned about food back into the Shakedown kitchen. Dane adds, “We have a suggestion box and we want suggestions because we know everyone comes from a different family and has different ideas.”

The Shakedown spends hundreds of dollars at the Claremont farmers market each week, and thousands of dollars on local and organic products.

“The Shakedown supports and only uses organic and local foods. This is a huge undertaking because as Josh said, “It is easy to support and buy local and organic on an individual scale, but it is incredible and powerful to support local and organic agriculture on a large scale like in the Shakedown.”

Sustainability is an important value here at Pitzer and as Alden explains, he has taken what he has learned in the classroom and applied it to the Shakedown.

“In many classes and other academic surroundings we learn that using organic, locally produced and fair trade ingredients is vital for creating a sustainable world. Eating locally and organically has become more popular but is still rarely seen in the cafe or restaurant business. The Shakedown utilizes the College’s facilities and resources to create an idealistic space where we use nearly a 100-percent organic product. We buy these products and create our food with the idea that we share the vision with the rest of the student body making the experience of supporting sustainability easy, and pleasurable for our local community.”

Working at the Shakedown has become an integral part of my education,” Alden concluded. “The fact that we have a restaurant you could find in the Claremont Village in terms of food quality, but that is entirely student run is unique. Also our integration of music, art, film and other creative realms of collective thought is a crucial and unique aspect of the Shakedown.”

-Samantha Field ‘09

Mission Statement: The Shakedown Café is entirely student founded and operated. We always have the health, vitality, pleasure and sustainability of the individual, the local community, the global community and the environment in mind and body. ALL of our food is created from scratch using ALL* fresh Certified Organic and/or locally produced ingredients. We serve local Free Range organic Chicken, Fair Trade Certified Tea and Coffee, and Organic produce grown locally and sold at the Claremont Farmer's Market. Our bananas are grown by Organics Unlimited, a company renowned for their labor, social and environmental awareness and action in Latin America. The space is open for music, art, movies, poetry, catered dinners, events, parties, and student groups of all sorts. We hope you enjoy the Shakedown as much as we do.

Questions and comments? Ask at the counter or email: theshakedowncafe@hotmail.com)

* In attempting to redefine the food industries’ current definition of the word ‘conventional’- ‘unjustly and unsustainably grown with petroleum based/dependent fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, chemicals, synthetic hormones & antibiotics, and genetic engineering while creating corporate monocultures which privatize the world’s food supply’, we have less than a handful of ingredients in our kitchen that are not certified organic.