Class of 1953 Commons reopens late-night dining for summer term

While the Courtyard Cafe will be fully closed for term, students have three options for late-night dining.

by Emily Fagell | 7/1/22 5:15am

by Paula Kutschera / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

On Sunday, the Class of 1953 Commons opened for late-night dining, joining Novack Cafe and the Goldstein Snack Bar as the three late-night options this summer. The Courtyard Cafe, which offers both daytime and late-night dining during the academic year, will remain fully closed throughout the summer, according to the Dartmouth Dining webpage. 

Brandon Crosby, the general manager of ’53 Commons, explained that the Courtyard Cafe has “always” been closed during the summers, giving employees a chance to take time off or relocate to another dining location. He added that ’53 Commons — which will be open for late-night from 10 p.m. until midnight — aims to emulate “all of the favorites” from Courtyard Cafe, such as breakfast burritos, popularly known as bobs to students, mozzarella sticks, onion rings and other grill offerings.

In addition to Courtyard Cafe, all residential snack bars — except for the Goldstein Snackbar, which is open daily from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. —  are currently closed due to staffing issues, according to Novack Cafe and residential snack bars manager Chris Robbins. Even at the Goldstein Snackbar, Goldstein and Novack associate Simon Lamontagne ’24 said some shifts “aren’t covered at all” due to the shortage of employees on campus.

In addition to late-night, ’53 Commons will resume its typical daily hours of 7 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., according to its webpage. While this marks only the second summer in which ’53 Commons has been open past 8:30 p.m. — the location last offered late-night from the winter through summer terms of 2021 — Crosby said the College plans to keep this model for future summers. He said he expects the summer dining hours currently listed on the webpage to remain consistent throughout the summer.

Despite the introduction of ’53 Commons late-night, many students expressed frustration at the lack of dining options available this summer.

“It never seems like there [are] enough options,” Novack associate Liana Laremont ’24 said. “Especially on the weekends here in the summer, only Novack and Foco [are] open… it feels limiting because we just lost the only place that would sell salads and fresh fruit.”

Rob Mailley ’24 said he agreed, calling ’53 Commons late-night “fine” and a “bandaid on the labor problems and other staffing issues.”

“Ideally they would have full [Courtyard Cafe] late-night, open seven days a week, and ideally that would be open until like two in the morning,” Mailley said. “Just something that serves greasy food until late [at] night.”

Mailley added that he was disappointed with the “not late enough” hours and “not great” offerings at ’53 Commons, pointing to a limited grill menu that lacked one of his favorite Courtyard Cafe items — the buffalo chicken tender quesadilla. That said, Mailley recognized that the location just opened and said there is “still room for improvement.”

Lamontagne said it’s reasonable to close ’53 Commons at midnight due to the lack of workers available until 2 a.m., especially considering the lengthy closing process once food service ends. Ian Scott ’24, who works as a dishwasher at ’53 Commons, said that students on the late-night shift tend to stay an additional “two to three hours” after midnight, adding that the College should offer “better compensation for people that are having to work these longer hours.”

That said, Chris Peck, president of Service Employees International Union, Local 560 — the worker’s union in Hanover — said the College should find a way to keep late-night options open later for students.

“I know there are a lot of restaurants in town that are closing earlier or just not open, and college students stay up late and need food,” he said. “To me, it doesn’t make sense to close early.”

Mailley also expressed frustration that Domino’s Pizza is the “only viable option in town” on Fridays and Saturdays because the chain “gets kind of old.”

Collis Cafe will operate during its usual hours Monday through Thursday, though it will close early at 2 p.m. on Fridays, according to the dining webpage. On Fridays from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., the cafe will be replaced by the Collis Farmer’s Market, where students can use DBA or meal swipes to buy fruit, cheese, honey, jams and other items from local farms, Laremont said. 

Unlike a typical term, Novack Cafe will offer only retail items after 11 p.m., allowing workers to get a headstart on closing, Robbins said. Novack employee Scarlette Flores ’24 said that the modified schedule makes cleanup “much easier,” noting that “it was definitely a struggle in the past” to close the bakery and drink station at midnight. Robbins added, however, that the shortened bakery hours are “not necessarily a forever thing.”

In response to limited options, some students have opted to switch their typical meal plan or opt out of Dartmouth Dining altogether.

“I usually stay on the 80-block plan because when Courtyard and all these other locations [were] open, I didn’t have to worry too much about issues with running into a negative balance with DBA because I had enough starting out and then I was also getting my DBA stipends from the hours that I worked,” Scott said. “Going into this term with Foco being the main dining option that’s available, it makes more sense than to be on the unlimited plan.”

Scott, however, said that switching to the more expensive unlimited plan can raise “issues for accessibility” for students who either do not work for Dartmouth Dining or do not have rollover DBA from previous terms, since a $5 late-night swipe typically does not cover the cost of a late-night visit.

Laremont said many of her friends who live off campus have chosen no dining plan altogether, instead frequenting the Hanover Co-Op or local Hannaford and cooking meals themselves.

Flores said she has noticed a different atmosphere in Novack, which has been less busy with fewer students on campus and serves “almost nobody” for late-night now that ’53 Commons has reopened. She added that the worker dynamic has also changed — whereas the location previously lacked employees in the Class of 2024, Flores said the cafe has seen an “influx of new workers” this summer, which she described as “so much nicer.” 

Despite some students reporting feeling frustrated with this summer’s options, Crosby said that Dartmouth Dining aims to listen to students and “provide the services that the student wants.”

“Like any big institution, we don't necessarily turn on a dime, but if we keep hearing, you know, from students that they want this or that, our goal is to make things work,” he said.