CC moves to revamp ’82 Grill, Snack Bar

Six weeks into their term as Williams College Council’s (CC) co-presidents, Emanuel Yekutiel ’11 and Ifiok Inyang ’11 have spearheaded an initiative to revamp the’82 Grill and SnackBar dining facilities. CC has successfully campaigned for the ’82 Grill to remain open until 1 a.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, and has ordered a new cooler for bottled beer. The pair also hopes to push through more changes by fall 2010, including renaming and revamping the ’82 Grill, possibly opening the ’82 Grill seven days a week, displaying student artwork at the venue and integrating Whitmans’ and Lee Snack Bar at night.

In a resolution adopted March 17, CC stated that because the ’82 Grill was originally intended to serve as the campus bar, it ought change its name to the more appropriate ’82 Pub and Grill. CC suggested that the venue be open Monday evenings, equivalency be extended until 1 a.m. in conjunction with Snack Bar, a second register be opened and that the decór include memorabilia such as banners signed by each class, photographs of the College’s past and present, student art displays and showcases for timely exhibits related to events like Black History Month, Women’s Month, Winter Carnival, Mountain Day, Homecoming and the like.

The resolution also calls for a wider selection of beer, the installation of an additional tap and the introduction of student-oriented programming, such as a trivia night or a jazz night. CC suggested new furniture for the venue, such as booths that would promote a more relaxed, pub-like atmosphere, as well as a revamped space outside the venue to make it more welcoming; additionally, CC suggested that on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, students be seated and have their orders taken as in a restaurant.

Newton  Davis ’12, chair of CC’s ’82 Grill Task Force, said the goal of the committee is to “revitalize the space so students want to spend more time there.” Davis said he wants to make the space “fulfill its role as campus bar and also be a place where students can meet in a casual setting that is both accepting of those who chose to drink and those who do not or cannot.”

Davis said that a major student concern with the ’82 Grill centers on drinking. “It’s a very awkward place,” he said. “Students who would want to drink do not necessarily feel comfortable.”

While CC does not yet have concrete plans for bringing new furniture into the venue, the renovated space will be less sterile, more inviting and “representative of the campus at large,” Davis said. According to Davis, Dining Services has been very receptive to CC’s ideas.

Chris Abayasinghe, assistant director of student dining, said he has met with CC on multiple occasions regarding the resolutions.  Abayasinghe said one suggestion by CC was to open the ’82 Grill seven days a week to combat the long wait at Snack Bar on days when the ’82 Grill is not open. Abayasinghe said that while he believes such a strategy would alleviate the long lines at Snack Bar, challenges to this suggestion would include more employee scheduling.

Abayasinghe nevertheless sees CC’s initiatives as possibilities. “I envision us definitely implementing portions of the vision for the ’82 Grill,” he said. “I remain excited for the additional options we can provide for our students.”

In a separate resolution approved March 17, CC voted to incorporate Whitmans’ into the Snack Bar by moving the majority of the food preparation from Lee Snack Bar to Whitmans’, which, as a larger venue, allows for a more varied and healthier menu, as well as greater efficiency and possible elimination of long waits in line.

Yekutiel explained that even if Whitmans’ were to be used instead of Snack Bar, he wants to keep the a la carte nature of Snack Bar’s menu. “We don’t want to have ‘dining hall at night,’” he said. “We’ve made that clear to the administration.” Yekutiel described CC’s goal as “keeping the great parts of Snack Bar and ditching the parts that nobody likes.”

“We know that the Snack Bar line is long, we know that the Snack Bar menu is limited with the equipment that we have in that location, and we know that the time to produce that food is lengthy,” Abayasinghe said.

CC and Dining Services have thus far looked at two operating models for incorporating Whitmans’ and Snack Bar: Students could either order at the Snack Bar counter and pick up food at Whitmans’, or just use Whitmans’ as the main checkout station. CC is unsure at this point which method it would like to see implemented.