Dining expands late night services

January 16, 2013 by Natalee Dawson, News Editor

Starting on Feb. 1, snack bar service will be extended to provide students with more options for late night dining. Lee Snack Bar will open alongside Whitmans’ Late Night to provide breakfast food from 8:30 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights and 8:30 p.m. to midnight on weeknights. Whitmans’ hours will also be extended until 2:00 a.m. The decision to expand late night dining options comes as a result of student demand and cooperation between Dining Services and College Council (CC).

“As we began evaluating the proposal to expand hours, we recognized that we were missing more than those important extra minutes late on weekend nights,” Stephen Klass, vice president of campus life, said. “We realized that we needed to reinvigorate the Lee Snack Bar itself as an evening venue. It needed to be more than a place to sit and eat and we wanted to reestablish that historic vitality at the entrance to Paresky.”

“College Council and Dining had been in conversation about the idea throughout the fall,” Krista Pickett ’13, CC co-president, said. “Dining Services was willing to work with us all along, but they knew that making any changes to snack bar hours would be quite the undertaking. They asked for CC to make a statement of support on behalf of the student body for extending the hours. The resolution CC passed demonstrated that this was an idea worth pursuing.”

Last fall, CC passed a resolution to continue pursuing negotiations to extend snack bar hours. Robert Volpi, director of Dining Services, and Chris Abayasinghe, assistant director of student dining, then worked with Tyler Sparks ’15, student chair of the Dining Services Committee, and the administration to create a plan that would satisfy student demand and staff availability. To fill the extra hours, Dining Services had to hire four new workers, who will be trained in advance of the “soft opening” of the new late night dining services in the last week of of Winter Study.

“Once we’d worked out all the details – hours, menu concept, staffing, budget – we discussed it with appropriate administrative colleagues and received resoundingly positive support,” Klass said. “It’s really one of the most widely and enthusiastically accepted initiatives I’ve been associated with at the college.”

“Dining Services always goes above and beyond to take student feedback seriously,” Pickett said. “Everybody, especially the folks in Dining, is excited about these changes to snack bar. The fact that Dining Services took this idea so seriously is a testament to their incredible relationship with and care for the student body.”

In order to be successful, Lee Snack Bar needed to have a “brand,” according to Sparks. Breakfast food was chosen for its popularity among the student body, and inspiration was drawn from restaurants like the International House of Pancakes. In the past students have requested items like eggs, breakfast sandwiches and bagels at Whitmans’, and these items are likely to be included in Lee Snack Bar’s menu. Dining Services and CC will rely on student feedback to guide them in making future changes to the operations of Lee Snack Bar.

A suggestion box will be available at Lee Snack Bar for students to submitt comments or ideas to improve the service.

“Student feedback is going to be a huge part of Lee After Dark’s success,” Sparks said. “It cannot be stressed enough: This initiative is not going to work perfectly on the first night. The hope is to have everything figured out by spring break. The menu will be adjusted. The space will be altered. It’s going to take time before Lee After Dark is what it should be.”

According to Pickett, it is likely that the extended hours will allow parties on the weekends to last longer. Currently many students gatherings disband in order to reach Whitman’s Late Night before it closes at 1 a.m. Pickett hopes that students will take the opportunity to “unwind responsibly” if they have more time to get to snack bar, and that the expanded service will keep students on campus after leaving parties.

“Students keep using the words ‘game changer,’” Pickett said. “I do think the snack bar hour extension will encourage students to remain on campus during the late night weekend hours and to be together in the student center.”

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