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The Dartmouth
May 20, 2024 | Latest Issue
The Dartmouth

Back of the Napkin cafe opens in Engineering and Computer Science Center

The new Dartmouth Dining location becomes the second undergraduate dining option on the west side of campus.


Back of the Napkin, the College’s newest on-campus dining location, opened Sunday afternoon in the Engineering and Computer Science Center.

The cafe will operate from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Mondays through Thursdays, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Fridays, 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Sundays and will be closed on Saturdays, according to Dartmouth Dining manager Kris Piquette. 

Back of the Napkin opens nearly five months after its originally scheduled date in late April, which Dartmouth Dining director Jon Plodzik wrote in an email statement was due to prolonged construction delays. 

The cafe’s menu takes inspiration from various other Dartmouth dining locations, Plodzik wrote, and stocks single origin, single source coffee from Abracadabra Coffee Roasters in Woodstock, Vermont. 

“The cafe offers snack items, packaged sandwiches on ciabatta bread, salads, sushi and hot prepared entrees delivered twice daily from ’53 Commons,” Plodzik wrote. “[Back of the Napkin] offers a variety of popular items from around campus and hot entrees from [Class of ’53 Commons] venues of Ma [Thayer’s], Herbivore and the Grill.”

While Back of the Napkin is not fully operational — the cafe is still waiting on remaining construction projects to be completed to fully offer espresso drinks and soups, and there is no timeline for the final completion — Plodzik wrote he was glad the location is open. 

Victor Muturi ’23, who said he frequently studies in the ECSC building, added that the Back of the Napkin will be a helpful place to grab food during evening study sessions.

“Having…this [location] for a late night kind of thing, that’s kind of nice,” Muturi said.

Piquette said that he envisions the location will have the “convenience of a snack bar, but with more options.”

“It’s definitely not going to be [the Class of ’53 Commons], but I’m hoping that we’re pretty much busy all night, and people see the value in being able to hang out here and study and be able to grab something quickly,” Piquette said.

Aside from The Fern in the Irving Institute, Back of the Napkin is the only undergraduate dining location on the west side of campus. It is also the only location in the area open past 3:30 p.m., according to Dartmouth Dining’s website

Plodzik wrote that Back of the Napkin will not accept meal swipes, instead only operating on dining dollars, DASH and credit cards. New Dartmouth Dining venues in addition to Back of the Napkin, such as Ramekin, The Fern and Cafe@Baker, do not accept meal swipes as payment because the method does not earn enough money at these locations, he wrote.

Gabi Riddick ’23, a Dartmouth Dining student employee, said she appreciates her work schedule at Back of the Napkin and thinks the cafe is already becoming popular.

“We just opened for the first time and 25 kids walked in within the first six minutes,” Riddick said. “So, I think people are hungry, especially on late nights, and it looks like it’s going to be busy.”

As Back of the Napkin begins its first week of operations, Piquette said he hopes students make use of the cafe’s hours and location.

“We definitely want to cater to the folks that are here during the day, since we’re open all day,” he said. “And hopefully we get a decent crowd of students at night trying to cram and study, coming in for a quick pick-me-up.”

After her first visit, Kelly Song ’23 said she was expecting more of a cafe setup from the location and more hot food options but “wasn’t disappointed.”

“I’m happy it’s open on the weekends,” Song said. “It’s really hard to find food [around] here — especially on the weekends.”

Lauren Goyette ’23 added that she wished the venue had more to offer.

“[The location] is definitely a little bit better [than other Dartmouth Dining choices], but I do wish it was more of a Collis [Cafe] or a [Courtyard Cafe] situation, where it’s like a full cafe,” Goyette said. “But I’ll take this over nothing for sure.”