History of the AMEX Cafe

History of the AMEX Café

The 80s: humble beginnings for L’American Express Café

In 1979, the AMEX, then known as L’American Express Café, was born. Originally a school-run project, Dan Sherry ’79 managed alongside AUP (then ACP) students looking for some hands-on business experience and course credits. Student co-managers George Aucoin ’80 and Miriam Twaalfhoven ’81, bookkeeper turned bartender Andrew Batinovich ’80, faculty advisor Ravi Kurian-Joseph, and Dean of Students Stephen Plummer ’68 brought together a uniquely ACP spirit, which would define the life of the café to come. Students were involved in every facet of the business: daily operations, contacting vendors, hiring and firing, bookkeeping, and reporting to the Student Council. L’American Express Café had an abundance of snacks, sandwiches, and beers, a steady supply of coffee and a DJ playing the hottest hits on cassette.

During the café’s first year, beer was only served on Friday night and everything was locked up and shut down on the weekends. Students petitioned the administration to end the injustice, and ACPers soon had a place to party, seven days a week.

The 90s: protest, beer and rock ‘n’ roll

In the spring of 1990, President Catherine Ingold made the decision to move the café, referred to as the AMEX, from the Bosquet building to the St. Dominique building. According to the 1992 yearbook, L’Esprit, Ingold’s reasoning was that “it would mean less noise for classes in the building, and that there would be space for a new ‘free- standing’ student center.” Students who felt that relocating the Amex would change its identity and ambiance organized a demonstration. The yearbook text continues, “More than 100 students and professors crammed into the Café demanding that Dean of Students John Nissen, Dean of Academics William Cipolla, and President Ingold come down to explain.” The following day, an ad hoc committee was formed with representatives from the administration, faculty, and student body, ending with a reversal of President Ingold’s decision.

The following years witnessed a frenzy of parties as the AUP heartland defined the pulse of student life in the septième. 1993 welcomed beer baptisms for new café staff members and condom dispensers. The next three years completed the transformation, with foosball, pool, and chess matches that enjoyed a campus-wide following.
In 1999, the AMEX threw a bash for every major holiday and every occasion in between. AUP yearbooks are a testament to the wild energy of Reggae nights, Valentine’s Day, New Year’s Eve and countless other events.

The 2000s: the AMEX

The 2000s saw a change in the organization of the AMEX. Financial mismanagement and out of control parties caused the AUP administration to end the student-run system and opt to hire external management. Raul Hernandez took over the AMEX management in early 2008, offering the space for student events, speech nights, and fundraisers. With a large variety of food and drinks added to the menu, visitors found the AMEX’s burgers to be some of the best in Paris.

In April 2012, a devastating fire in the basement kitchen of the AMEX caused the café to close through the summer and beginning of the fall semester. During this time, Hernandez completely revamped the space – rebuilding, redecorating and reconfiguring the menu to make it better than ever. Later that same year, AUP’s Board of Trustees voted to sell the Bosquet building in an effort to secure funds towards the purchase of a new Student Life and Learning Center. As Chair of the Board of Trustee’s Real Estate Committee, Andrew Batinovich ’80 (part of the original AMEX staff and major donor towards the initial purchase of Bosquet) helped to guide the sale and two-year lease back, while the administration sought a new place for the students to call home. 

The AMEX by Goodys

In 2013, the AMEX Café came under new management, as the team of the acclaimed Parisian burger-truck GOODY'S brought their savoir-faire to the AUP community. With the sale of Bosquet and the creation of the Student Life Centre in the Combes building in early 2015, it was fitting that one of the features of the renovated building be a new home for the AMEX. 

There have been several upgrades for students, most notably an increase in space on both sides of the bar counter: the new AMEX has 1,200 square feet of space, twice the space of the old AMEX. Additionally, it boasts a fully-equipped, professional kitchen for GOODY’S, the current management of the AMEX. GOODY’S took all of Paris by storm in 2012 and has been cooking up great things on the AUP campus since joining the AUP community. The addition of an outdoor terrace brings the new AMEX closer to the origins of the original AMEX, which was located in the open-air courtyard behind the Bosquet building, while also creating a great hang-out for students wanting to enjoy a moment in the sun.

Looking to the Future: AMEX in 2018

Antonin Wateau, a graduate of the famous cooking school Ferrandi, has brought a new beginning to our beloved AMEX Café. Wateau took charge of our café in the summer of 2018 with the help of AUP student staff and a professional cook. The new menu is a mix of old favorites and fresh offerings. The famous AUP Burger, a salad and sandwich bar, and a range of finger foods and breakfast options are served daily alongside specials that are based on seasonal ingredients and fusion concepts.

The AMEX remains a gathering point for our community, whether to relax and shoot some pool or to take part in an active calendar of events – concerts, open mic nights, sports games, movie nights and a daily happy hour. Located at the heart of the AUP campus in Combes, students and staff are encouraged to reach out to Wateau to discuss the possibilities of planning an event, however big or small, at the AMEX with a full selection of food and drink options to consider.