After a year of irregular and sometimes unpredictable hours, many Dartmouth Dining Services locations will be resuming normal operations this fall. Old favorites such as the Courtyard Cafe in the Hopkins Center for the Arts will reopen and new service locations are slated to open in Baker-Berry Library and the Thayer School of Engineering.
According to DDS director Jon Plodzik, the biggest change students will see this term will be the repositioning of late night service to the Courtyard Cafe. During the summer term, late night was temporarily served in the Class of 1953 Commons, but the nighttime swipe has historically been offered at Collis Cafe. In another notable shift from the summer term, late night service will be offered on Fridays and Saturdays again, although short staffing might result in early closures at various points throughout the term. The new late night menu will resemble the Courtyard Cafe’s late night menu from the 2019 –2020 academic year, with the exception of the salad bar, which will close every night before late night service begins.
Starting Sept. 20, Novack Cafe will remain open until 11:30 p.m. — and snack bar locations in House Center B, commonly known as “the Cube,” and Brace Commons will be open until 2:00 a.m. — every night of the week.
Phoebe Ford ’23 said that while the return of late night at the Courtyard Café is a welcome change, the relatively far distance students will have to walk to grab a bite at night might be an inconvenience for students traveling from the library.
“The [Courtyard Café] is definitely less central,” Ford said, adding that she would generally prefer the shorter walk to Novack during nighttime library study sessions.
According to Simon Agnew ’22, however, the location of Late Night service matters less than the hours of operation.
“If people are [out] and in need of food, I feel like it’s definitely important that they have food available at all times of day,” Agnew said.
With the expansion of the Thayer School of Engineering nearing completion, Plodzik noted that DDS would be opening two new service locations in the Center for Engineering and Computer Science building and the Irving Institute for Energy and Society. Dubbed the “Back of the Napkin” and the “Renew Cafe,” respectively, these locations will offer new but currently unfinalized menu items, and fill a gap in undergraduate dining locations on the western part of campus. He noted that these spots will only accept dining dollars and not meal swipes.
“I'm not really sure why DDS decided that a place like Novack can use swipes, but places [with similar setups] can’t,” Agnew said, adding that allowing students to use meal swipes at more dining locations would make alternative food options more “accessible.”
Having lived in the River dorm cluster for her freshman year, Ford said that “it was always a struggle” with a lack of food options nearby, and that students living on the western portion of campus will be grateful for the new additions.
Additionally, DDS is planning to open a new café dubbed “Café at Baker” sometime in October to fill the space that formerly hosted a King Arthur Flour location. While the opening has been delayed due to the return of Dartmouth’s indoor mask mandate and concerns over the health of library workers, “[DDS is] prepared to offer a concept that will be very similar and reminiscent of KAF with a tea and espresso bar, along with some hot food items that are unique to that property,” Plodzik said. The café will be open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Another new service, the “Boba D” station in the Collis Cafe, has replaced Collis’ sandwich station with the start of the fall term. Ford, however, called this a “miss” as she would “rather have the sandwich station.”
Wade Williams ’24 had an initial similar reaction.
“I’m just now learning that the sandwich bar was closed, but now that I do know, I am very upset about it,” he said.
Upon learning that the sandwich bar was replaced by boba, however, he reversed his position.
“Well, we already have a sandwich bar in [’53 Commons], so I don’t mind the change actually. I didn’t know it was replaced by boba,” he said.
Patience Mukundirukuri ’25 has not yet visited Collis, but said she is excited to explore Collis’ offerings.
“I think [the new boba station] is a good idea because we always need change,” Mukundirukuri said.
While these new DDS additions are highly anticipated, the return to regular dining services has come with complications. Plodzik explained that, despite extensive hiring efforts, DDS has been experiencing severe staffing shortages, which have resulted in extended wait times at dining locations across campus.
“I think people are still trying to juggle how to get into the workforce while we continue to have this pandemic around us,” Plodzik said. “We know we’re a great employer here at Dartmouth Dining [Services] and I feel like we will come through this better than anybody else — it’s just taking a lot longer than I would’ve anticipated.”
Arielle Beak contributed reporting.