Once upon a time, more than just coffee brewed at Cholmondeley's, our friendly campus java joint. The atmosphere was certainly lively enough at one point to give Friends creators Marta Kauffman '78 and David Crane '79 the idea for Central Perk-a much beloved setting for what is possibly the most successful sitcom of the last 20 years.But today, the Central Perk version of Chum's is a story more tried than true.

When coffeehouses are held at Chum's for popular a cappella groups, comedy troupes and various other performers, the small room size and limited menu often preclude a comfortable experience for the audience. On these nights, students pay a $2 donation to attend the event but generally purchase nothing. On nights without scheduled "coffeehouses," the small room can often remain vacant.

The lack of customers can be explained in part by the limited menu. Many people don't feel the need to spend cash on the usual, mundane items when they can get comparable or superior products in the Expressway or in the Shapiro Caf. Additionally, the inability to use points at Chum's (which is student-run and not managed by Aramark) makes it difficult for many students-who have already spent a bundle on their meal plans-to justify spending actual cash on campus.

Although renovations were made within the last couple of years to improve Chum's, it still falls short in comparison to many small coffee shops and-dare it be said-even to a cozy Starbucks. More seating, work areas, wireless Internet access and other amenities are needed in order to become a legitimate and frequented establishment.

Because students are the shop's only proprietors, Chum's is a difficult project to sustain and improve. However, it seems that certain simple aspects of running a business are being ignored where this coffeehouse is concerned.

Advertising is non-existent; many students are completely unaware of Chum's and what it offers (or what it has the potential to offer). Promotional nights with special deals, sales or menu items could also be helpful to bring in customers either in conjunction or in addition to scheduled performances. Advertising on campus is very easy with such venues as the my.brandeis.edu Web site, the Shapiro Center television, posters, e-mail announcements, WBRS or in the Justice.

It's wonderful that we have a unique, artsy place on campus where students can meet and relax. However, Chum's is going to waste if it is not used by the population on a regular basis. Our little coffee house requires some significant changes revamping to make it actually a central part of the Brandeis experience rather than just another stop on the tour.