The Bridge Cafe began as a student project. When the Robert Crown Center was built in 1974, the Bridge was merely a cold, glassed-in walkway between the library and the Crown Center, invariably kept locked, because of security issues in the Crown Center. But it seemed obvious to a number of creative Hampshire students, to whom wasted space was anathema, that the Bridge should be used for something.
In 1977 a student named Olivia Georgia gained permission to use it for her Div III gallery installation (a series of swooping fabric panels).
The Bridge Cafe itself was first open in the late spring of 1978, run by a group of eight students who served coffee, tea, and a variety of sweets baked in their mods. Originally open one day a week, it soon took off and was open seven days a week. For the next several years the Bridge was run by students on a a rather hit or miss basis, as they became interested or got tired of baking, or were too busy with their Div IIIs. In 1980, one of the many student center task forces first proposed a student center for the upper level of the Crown Center and The Bridge. Finally, the operation was taken over by Marriott (the food service that runs the dining commons) in 1996, and major renovations were done to create the kitchen on the upper level of the Crown Center. The Bridge Cafe has been reliably open during the academic year ever since.