Lamenting Late Night
Students express concern over the lack of late night food options on campus.
Collis late night — a beloved campus tradition — has yet to return.
Dartmouth Dining Services has had to make a number of adjustments due to the pandemic, most notably to the beloved late-night food program. Collis Cafe late night, which was originally shut down after the start of the pandemic in March, has not made a return, leaving students with the Hop Courtyard Cafe and Novack Cafe as the primary places on campus to get food at night.
Without Collis late night, which was formerly open until at least 1:30 a.m., many students feel that a crucial part of the Dartmouth social scene has been lost. One student, Lily Simon ’22, described Collis as the perfect place to go after a night out.
“[Collis late night] was such an easy, accessible, open, inclusive place that anyone could go to, and it was kind of like a nice wind-down time before going home if you’re going out,” Simon said. Simon also remarked that the Hop and Novack, both of which typically close at midnight, aren’t able to provide this same social space, mostly because they close earlier and thus cannot serve as a hub for students after going out.
Ramya Chilappa ’23 echoed Simon’s sentiments, noting she especially misses the variety of food offered at Collis late night.
“The thing I miss most about Collis late night is that they used to have a different special every night — my favorite was the cream cheese jalapeño poppers,” Chillappa said. “The Hop is good, but it’s just the same thing every night.”
On the weekends, post-midnight, one of the only places to get food is the Domino’s on Main Street, which is open until 3:15 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Hanover Domino’s manager Michael Chevalier said that his store’s sales have increased dramatically: Since the beginning of 21F, Domino’s has broken a record for most sales in a day out of the seven locations in the Upper Valley, as well as a store record for the most sales the location has ever made in a week.
“The first week you guys came back, we broke a record by at least ten thousand dollars,” Chevalier said. “And then, on Homecoming, we broke that record by almost another ten thousand dollars.”
Chevalier has observed a makeshift late night social scene as groups of students come to Domino’s together, congregating in and around the store and “chilling in the parking lot.”
Despite the lack of options, students seem to be making the most of what is available to them. Sonya Danchak ’25, for example, has made a routine of going to late night, frequenting Novack during the weekdays and the Hop or Domino’s on the weekends. She said that the weekend lines for the grill at the Hop are often so long that she ends up just getting something to go, adding that many of her friends skip the Hop altogether, ordering from Domino’s instead.
Danchak also expressed her frustration with Novack’s inconsistent late-night hours.
“At Novack — only at night, really — they close early, unannounced, or they stop doing drink orders, which is pretty much the only reason I go to Novack at night,” she said.
Mayumi Miyazato ’25, a student employee at Novack, said that the current labor shortages have impacted operations, adding that sometimes students are sick or have too much work and have to miss their shifts.
“In our system, if we cannot work, we just let people know, and sometimes we get someone to replace us, and sometimes not,” she said, adding that when there aren’t enough people to work a shift, Novack has no other choice but to close early.
Miyazato pointed out that having more late-night food options would likely help disperse the crowd in the library as so many students want to “use their swipe,” creating long lines and a stressful work environment.
DDS director Jon Plodzik described the impact of labor shortages throughout the entirety of Dartmouth Dining, adding that there simply aren’t any job applicants despite DDS’s many attempts to advertise open positions. Plodzik also mentioned that these struggles are “not unique to Dartmouth.”
Plodzik explained that there are currently no plans to bring back Collis late night or last year’s Foco late night. Instead, three new cafes are set to open in the near future: Renew Cafe, the Back of the Napkin Cafe and the Cafe at Baker — the last of which will occupy the space of gone-but-never-forgotten KAF. The Back of the Napkin Cafe, which will be located in the Center for Engineering and Computer Science, is expected to have a late-night component. Plodzik described this new cafe as a “high-end grab-and-go menu.”
Amid labor shortages, students’ late night options have been significantly reduced. However, there appears to be a silver lining — plans for new cafes raise hopes for a better selection moving forward. Will these new locations fill the hole left by places as near and dear to students’ hearts as Collis late night and KAF? Only time will tell.