New DDS cafe opens in Dana Hall

by Emily Lu | 1/16/20 2:10am

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Ramekin, a new cafe located in Dana Hall, opened this term.

by Bowen Chen / The Dartmouth

Located on the first floor of the newly renovated Dana Hall, Ramekin celebrated its grand opening on Jan. 13 as a new dining option for the Dartmouth community. The cafe is open Monday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and offers a full Starbucks menu in addition to specialty “yummekins” and other snacks. 

According to Dartmouth Dining Services director Jon Plodzik, DDS has been planning to open a dining location on the north side of campus for over two years. About a year ago, DDS received financial permission from the College for the concept and has collaborated with College architects and contractors since, working up to Ramekin’s soft opening on Jan. 8.  

“It seems like a really underserved part of campus,” Plodzik said. “The folks in the graduate studies program were really interested in having some options for people in their building.” 

Ramekin’s branding includes a variety of items known as “yummekins” served in a small dishes, such as “eggekins,” “mac & cheesekins” and “sweetekins.” These items are unique to the location and will not be served anywhere else, Plodzik added. 

“Our crustless quiche — our little eggekins — are our biggest hit,” said Ramekin manager Krista Robbins. “[People are] loving the variety, they’re loving the fact that it’s a little different than the rest of campus.” 

Popular drinks on the full Starbucks menu such as frappuccinos and refreshers will also be served at Ramekin along with the specialty dishes. Plodzik added that additional menu items include smoothies, sandwiches, salads and organic soups — made every morning in the Class of 1953 Commons. 

“I have a lot of classes in the Life Sciences Center, so I think it’s a convenient spot if I need a quick coffee,” said Victoria Faustin ’23. “I really like how they have more variety than Novack — they have smoothies and different drink options.” 

Floor to ceiling windows illuminate the cafe with natural light and also help to create a modern atmosphere. While seating is currently limited in the small cafe, outdoor accommodations will become available once renovations to Dana Hall are complete. According to Plodzik, the rooftop patio will also be a spot for community members to enjoy their meals. 

Other unique features about Ramekin include options to cater from the cafe to the academic departments in Dana Hall. Ramekin also takes Apple Pay in addition to Dining Dollars and credit cards, though not cash, and serves as a location for students to drop off their Green2Go containers.  

“My sense is that particularly myself as faculty and graduate students — but undergrads as well — have always wanted spaces and places to eat like this spread around campus,” said government professor Herschel Nachlis. “It sort of alleviates pressure points at some of the other places and satisfies a large amount of latent unmet demand throughout the campus.” 

While DDS is still focused on improving Ramekin based on feedback from students and faculty in its opening weeks, it is also looking at opening a similar cafe in the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, where construction is projected to finish in the fall of 2021.  

“We already have a design on that — you can see how far we’re working,” Plodzik said. “We work with the campus architects and the designers of the building, first to craft out a space, then to identify the components needed in that space. We want to just keep pushing technology and pushing the whole program forward; these new venues are exciting.”