“Hello! How are you?”
“Good! How are you?”
“Good. Can I have a iced skim latte please?”
Swipes BC ID
“Have a good one.”
The routine can seem monotonous to some—but not to the familiar face behind the Chocolate Bar register, Scott Bortolotto. “It’s a friendly greeting back and forth,” he said. “I enjoy it.”
A recent graduate of the Woods College of Advancing Studies, Bortolotto has worked at Boston College for the past nine years—six spent on Newton Campus at BC Law and the last three in Stokes Hall.
Former residents of Newton recognize Bortolotto from their time spent in Stuart: “They know that I’m a huge Patriots fan, so I’ve had a lot of exchanges about the Patriots and stuff like that.”
After three years behind the counter at the Chocolate Bar, Bortolotto’s fan base has stretched a lot farther than the Newton Campus.
“He’s made quite a name for himself,” said Julia Gustin, avid Chocolate Bar customer and LSOE ’18. “It brightens up my day because I get a coffee, and I get a friendly face.”
The line at the on-campus coffee and ice cream bar extends farthest in between classes. Of course, that’s to be expected from a stand located in the middle one of the busiest, most centralized academic buildings at BC. Hordes of students pass the line between 12:50 and 1 p.m., shaking their heads in disbelief at its length, yet joining its ranks anyway. Others, less interested in the coffee and more interested in the atmosphere, linger around the dark-wooden pillars and between the strings of cozy armchairs or rows of rustic tables, hoping a seat will open.
“The goings-on in and around the vicinity of the Chocolate Bar is quite entertaining,” Gustin said. “It makes for glorious people-watching—you don’t know who’s going to pass through there.”
The bar serves the campus from 7:45 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Employees arrive around 45 minutes earlier than that to begin prep-work for the day, however, the last 15 minutes of each hour prove to be the busiest for Bortolotto. The barista graciously walks the fine line between friendly and productive.
“You always know, every time, that he’s going to be efficiently pleasant,” Gustin said.
Bortolotto is intensely aware of the demand to get people back to class as quickly as possible. “We try to scoop people through the line as fast as we can,” he said.
The rushed work environment, however, does not completely detach Bortolotto from the students he serves.
“Any time I walk across campus, there are a lot [of students] that I recognize,” he said. “Even the smiles that I get in the morning or afternoon—it’s a friendly place to be.”
Having been married for 14 years, and with a son, Luke, and a daughter, Claire, aged 12 and 10, respectively. Bortolotto keeps a hectic pace outside of Stokes Hall as well. He coaches both Claire’s and Luke’s basketball teams, as well as Claire’s softball team. He has also served as a Cub Scout leader for the past five years. The family lives in West Roxbury—not a far commute for Bortolotto to make to Chestnut Hill.
The Chocolate Bar runs on between 15 and 20 employees, most of whom are BC students, according to Bortolotto.
But even amid such a large staff, Bortolotto stands out. “I’m always surprised if he’s not there,” Gustin said. “He’s just part of the woodwork over there.”
“Scott must see it all,” she said. “The range of outrageously frazzled students that just got out of a test that they bombed, or the sad, sleep-deprived students that are hanging on a thread who need that coffee to survive another moment, or the care-free socialite hipsters that somehow manage to find a seat constantly, and are so casually calm and collected.”
The Chocolate Bar offers baked goods ranging from giant cookies to standard chocolate chip muffins, an assortment of ice cream flavors, a complete coffee menu, and an array of bottled beverages. Bortolotto’s favorite treat, he admits sheepishly, is the M&M cookie. And his favorite drink: “Just iced coffee—very simple.”
Gustin remembers seeing Bortolotto on the first day she ever visited the Chocolate Bar, but her relationship with the well-known barista remains at the same level as many other’s—in passing. “I just think that must be a cool existence,” she said. “—to have the entire university just filtering through your line every day.”
Featured Image by Drew Hoo / Heights Editor