Joe Wyatt
Published October 27, 2016

A freshly brewed partnership between a pair of nationally recognized innovators – Amarillo College and Palace Coffee Company – is definitely grounds for celebration.

AC Palace Coffee Homepage ImageLocally rooted Palace Coffee, which was named America’s Best Coffeehouse for 2013-14, and AC, an Achieving the Dream Leader College, have joined forces to establish a permanent coffeehouse on the Washington Street Campus.

The alliance was formalized on Tuesday, Oct. 25 by consent of AC’s Board of Regents.

The coffeehouse will employ about 15 people and be installed in Badger Den on the first floor of the College Union Building, a space Palace Coffee will lease after AC completes a renovation process to meet the vendor’s needs.

Steve Smith, vice president of business affairs at AC, said he expects the coffeehouse to be fully operational no later than the start of the 2017 fall semester. Palace Coffee, he said, was selected from a group of potential vendors because the company is motivated not only by sales, but also by the opportunity to contribute to student success.

“We had some great proposals from local coffee vendors,” Smith said. “When we considered the economics of the proposals and read the visions to create a space for our students and staff to meet, study and collaborate, we knew that Palace Coffee was the right choice and would be a great partner.

“Palace makes great coffee, but more importantly they share our mission to help students succeed,” Smith said. “They want to be a part of that success at Amarillo College.”

Patrick Burns, owner and founder of Palace Coffee, said he looks forward to providing an additional gathering place for the AC community. The AC coffeehouse will have the look and feel of other Palace locations, he said.

“Palace Coffee Company is excited to become a partner of Amarillo College,” Burns said. “It has always been a focus of ours to create spaces for community. We believe in hospitality, in bringing people together, and in creating spaces where people feel valued. Our new location at Amarillo College will be no different. As we look at our partnership, we feel a commonality with AC.

“The College has a rich history and a true understanding of the entire community,” he said. “Palace Coffee is proud to help create a space within AC’s walls that will enrich the campus and further their vision for student success. One of the most important factors in all of this is the opportunity this gives us to help encourage students to stay on campus longer.

“We will be in a central location that we hope will become the hub of student life.”

Palace Coffee, with three locations, already employs a few AC students, and Burns said there may be opportunities for others interested in one day joining the Palace workforce.

“We want the people we hire to be kind, to love working with people and enjoy bringing them together,” he said.

Interest in a coffee shop of some kind has long percolated among students at AC, where hot drinks presently are dispensed only from vending machines.

“This will be great because so many of our students go off campus to meet for coffee,” said Logan Nelson, president of AC’s Student Government Association. “This will give them an excellent reason to stay on campus, to gather right here to study, meet with faculty, or just hang out.”

Nelson is not a coffee drinker, herself, but she adores hot cocoa.

“Palace serves that, too,” she exclaimed. “I know people are tired of hot drinks from vending machines and will enjoy Palace being here. I know I certainly will.”