Mrs. Ou serves her last DMS meal

by David Kung | 6/21/96 5:00am

After 23 years as the Dartmouth Medical School's only cafeteria, Mrs. Ou's Chinese restaurant in Kellogg Cafeteria has closed.

Ou, who also owns Mrs. Ou's Chinese restaurant on South Main Street, served her last meal June 4. In a previous interview with The Dartmouth, Ou said the cafeteria was closed so Dartmouth Dining Services could open a restaurant with more American food.

"Mrs. Ou, who has never missed a day's work, has served over a million meals to medical school and college customers," according to a DMS press release.

DDS Director Pete Napolitano said DDS will replace Ou's cafeteria with the "Cafe North" July 8. Undergraduates' identification cards will be valid for purchase at the new cafe.

"What we have proposed to do is a small grill, prepackaged salads, some novelty ice creams and some self-serve yogurt and that's about all the space we have," Napolitano said. "We have to be on a small scale and modify as we become more familiar with the surroundings and little space."

"Much of the production will be done in Thayer Dining Hall and will be distributed and sold up there," he said. "Packaged salads in the Courtyard Cafe would be the same as those in Cafe North."

This month has been spent planning and arranging for the opening of the cafe, Napolitano said.

"A lot of things had to be worked out," he said. "We needed a complete inventory."

"We also wanted to be sensitive to Cynthia Ou while she was still in there as proprietor and operator," Napolitano added.

"When she is in there, we did not want to get in her way," he said.

More than 100 people attended a reception held by DMS in honor of Ou May 29.

DMS Dean Andrew Wallace presented Ou with a crystal vase inscribed with the DMS logo.

Earlier this year, Ou condemned DMS's decision to remove her, prompting a petition drive among medical school and College faculty.

"I'm not happy to leave," Ou told The Dartmouth in January. "I'm being forced out."

"If the petition works, if people like my cooking, then I'll stay," she said in January.

"I don't want to stay here forever, but I wanted 25 years," she said.

"A quarter of a century, that's all," she said.

DDS Director of Planning and Administration Ann Bauer told The Dartmouth in January that students and faculty petitioned for healthier and different food in the cafeteria and to be allowed

to pay with their student ID cards.

Ou refused to allow students to use their ID cards, Bauer said in January.

"She is the only option here, and Chinese food can get old," she said.

In June of 1995, DMS officials approached Ou and asked her to leave by the middle of the next month, Ou said.

"If they were very nice in telling me to leave, I am willing to leave," Ou said. "However, they were forcing me in the middle of June to leave by July 1. I told them no, because it had been so long."

DMS again requested that Ou leave, this time by August, she said.

"It was still too soon," Ou said. "Then they waited for a couple of months and then they said, 'Since you leave for two weeks for Christmas, why don't you leave then?,'" she said.

"I told them to leave me alone and let me choose a date to leave," she said.

The date chosen was June 4 of this year, Ou said.

"In 1973 I opened on June 4 so I decided to make it 23 years," she said.

"I was not that happy that I was being forced to leave but after some time I felt better so I am now happy to leave," she said.

Ou said she will now concentrate on her restaurant on South Main Street.

"I am retired for Kellogg but not from the restaurant," she said. "If I stay at home, I am bored. I like to work."

"Customers like to see me at the restaurant," she said.

"Now I just come here and see the customers. I do not have to cook anymore because we now have five cooks in the kitchen," she said.

A new cook was recently hired by Mrs. Ou's Restaurant, Ou said.

"We are happy because we hired a famous cook from New York City," she said. "His name is David Lin and he is a five star cook from the city."

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