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Mark's Cafe opened its doors in Van Pelt Library yesterday. The new venue will sell coffee, smoothies and sandwiches. [Lauren Spivack/The Daily Pennsylvanian]

Bucking a long-held ban, Van Pelt Library will now allow beverages throughout the premises.

The changes coincide with the addition of Mark's Cafe -- the new coffee bar and eatery that opened yesterday, after a month's delay, without much fanfare in the lower level of Van Pelt.

"It's something we've been working at for over five years now, and it's nice to finally see it open," Director of Library Administrative Services John Keane said, noting that a grand opening will be held for the cafe next Tuesday.

Some students, however, had already found their way to the new establishment and were giving the cafe positive reviews.

"It helps with studying, and it kind of relaxes the academic environment a little bit," College junior Catherine Hunt said, adding that "there can never be enough" coffee options on campus.

Offering the cafe as an "upscale" alternative, Dining Services Marketing Manager Maeve Duska characterized Mark's as "a Euro-style coffee cafe specializing in espresso drinks and gourmet sandwiches."

Yet, the prepared sandwiches and other food fare "looks about the same" as the offerings at other campus locales, according to Hunt.

The cafe, featuring modern-looking chairs on wheels and sleek silver trim, has late-night hours and boasts an outdoor patio that officials say will open shortly.

"It's a little bit more trendy than some of the other cafes on campus," Duska said.

Built with a pledged $60,000 from this year's senior class gift drive, the 2004 Cafe Garden Courtyard will bring the cafe seating up to a capacity of around 100.

"The other thing that kind of makes this a neat place for people to go... is that it has wireless connection to the Web," Duska added.

The grand opening next week will include "balloons and maybe a giveaway," Keane said, noting that a more formal ribbon cutting with donors, alumni and administrators will be held in early November.

But even before the official ribbon is cut, library faculty are taking advantage of the on-site offering.

"Our staff in the library have been very receptive, they were all down there getting smoothies, coffee and sandwiches," Keane said. "So far it seems to be well received."

Students also said the cafe would be welcomed as a study asset.

"I'm happy, I think it will be convenient," College sophomore Cristina Suroiu said. "It probably means I'll be stuck in the library 24/7."

Mark's Cafe -- which was originally scheduled to open for New Student Orientation, but was delayed by construction -- is just one piece of the dining additions and renovations made over the summer. Cyber Cafe was added to the Towne Building and renovations were made to dining facilities in 1920 Commons, McClelland Hall, Houston Market and Hill College House.

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