Dartmouth Dining plans to expand options and hours in the fall

Courtyard Cafe and residential snack bars will reopen and new dining venues will be introduced to campus.

by Andrew Sasser | 7/23/21 5:10am

by Julia Levine / The Dartmouth Staff

As Dartmouth prepares to return to full campus access by Aug. 1, Dartmouth Dining is working to expand hours and venue options for the upcoming academic year. After closing for over a year due to the pandemic, Courtyard Cafe in the Hopkins Center for the Arts — often referred to as “The Hop” — and the snack bars located in residential halls will reopen for the fall, according to Dartmouth Dining director Jon Plodzik and Novack Cafe and residential snack bar manager Chris Robbins. Plodzik also said that there will be a new cafe in Baker-Berry library by Sept. 2 and a bubble tea station at Collis Cafe “sometime soon.” 

Later in the year, Plodzik said that Dartmouth Dining plans to open a dining facility in the Irving Institute for Energy and Society once construction on the building is completed, which he said may not be until early November. He added that a new “grab and go” location will also open in the Thayer School of Engineering.

Once Courtyard Cafe opens in the fall, Plodzik said that late night dining — which has been served at ’53 Commons since winter term — will transition back to Courtyard Cafe. Plodzik hopes that moving late night dining away from ’53 Commons will provide a “more consistent” schedule for its staff.

Late night dining at Courtyard Cafe will be open every night until midnight, according to Plodzik. However, in a departure from pre-pandemic years, late night dining at Collis Cafe will not return.

“Because of the [staff] attrition that has occurred over the past year and a half, and because a lot of our remaining staff has moved to working out of ’53 Commons, it isn’t going to be possible to reopen late night at Collis,” Plodzik said. 

In addition to the reopening of Courtyard Cafe, three residential snack bars will also reopen in Brace Commons, Goldstein Hall and House Center B — “The Cube” — according to Robbins. Unlike previous terms, Robbins said these snack bars will only be open only for late night dining, with hours going from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. seven days a week.

“In the past we used to have morning hours for these snack bars, but we’ve had some trouble staffing [those hours] because students have busy schedules,” Robbins said. “They will still mainly be serving pre-made food, like frozen burritos and ice creams.”

The new cafe location in Baker-Berry will occupy the space formerly used by King Arthur Flour, according to Plodzik, and Robbins said that the cafe will primarily serve coffee and pastries. Plodzik clarified that this location will mainly be open during the day on weekdays and added that it will not accept meal swipe equivalencies.

“When we start up a new location, there is a lot of overhead associated with going into a new venue and hiring new staff,” Plodzik said. “If we accept meal swipes, we’re not going to be able to cover that overhead, as there’s not any new money coming from a dining plan.” 

In addition, while Robbins said he does not expect the hours at Novack Cafe to change significantly from their summer term hours, he mentioned that he thinks they will be more “consistent,” especially with the hiring of more student workers. He noted that during previous terms, hours at Novack were sometimes inconsistent due to students’ quarantines and the lack of full time employees for the cafe. 

Some students are looking forward to seeing these new changes on campus. Uma Alagappan ’23 said that she was “very excited” to hear about the reopening of the Courtyard Cafe and the new bubble tea station in Collis Cafe. 

This past year, students have also been frustrated by the shortened or inconsistent dining hours, such as Stephanie Do ’23, who spoke with The Dartmouth last week.

Upon hearing about the planned dining changes, Do said that it is “awesome” that late night will now be available every night. In an earlier conversation, she noted that the lack of late night on Friday and Saturday nights under the current dining schedule creates an “unsafe” situation for students who may need a space to eat after drinking and partying. 

“It’s an improvement from the current situation, although it doesn’t completely fix the problem,” Do said. “A lot of events start at 11, so having late night at [Courtyard Cafe] close down at midnight still makes it hard for people to get something to eat.”

Ultimately, Plodzik is optimistic about the upcoming dining changes, although he worries that the staff shortage will persist into the fall. 

“Right now we’re really excited to have everyone back on campus in the fall,” Plodzik said. “We’re still concerned about staffing for the fall, especially because we’re expecting it to be really busy, but otherwise I think it will be in very good shape.”

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