Chloe Miller ’14, News Editor
The Tripod has learned through a reliable source that the College plans to cancel the popular Late Night Bistro service after next weekend’s service. Due to high costs and low revenue, Chartwells does not plan on reintroducing Late Night service in the fall. Late Night, which began in September 2012, is an extremely popular food and activity option for students during the night. It is open from 11 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. Thursday through Sunday nights. Among the menu items are chocolate chip pancakes, egg sandwiches, tater tots, and boneless chicken tenders with a variety of mouth-watering hot sauce options.
While Chartwells cites low revenues, Trinity’s Office of Campus Life has also stated that there will be an option for late night dining given the extensive renovation of the Vernon Social Center. Students and Bistro employees alike love Late Night Bistro not only for the delicious food, but because it provides a safe place for students to go late at night. It prevents students who may be intoxicated from driving to pizza or late-night diners off campus, and encourages students to leave other social activities, such as fraternities, earlier in order to grab a snack before it closes. “It gives us something to do besides just go back to our rooms and drink more,” said Katie Barlok ’16, who has never known a Trinity without the late night option.
Citing results about on-campus dining survey that circulated to students earlier this year, Director of Campus Life Amy deBaun said that an overwhelming majority of students responded to the survey requesting late night dining options from Goldberg’s Bagel shop. Goldberg’s is slated to serve breakfast, lunch, dinner, and late-night food at its new location in the Vernon Social Center. Chartwells will also be opening a new convenience store-style location. There was an open house at the end of last semester to show students what has been planned for the Vernon Social renovation.
While students overwhelmingly enjoy Goldberg’s bagels, there is the issue that they will not accept Chartwells meal plans. They will accept Bantam Bucks, but many students are responsible for their own Bantam Bucks budget and this will be an expensive addition to students’ food budgets. Currently, the vast majority of students use meals and Chartwells Dollars at Bistro Late Night, which is generally included in the costs of the college, and not the individual student budget. It is yet to be seen whether there will be a Chartwells option open late in the evening hours.
Many people are surprised as that Chartwells would go to the trouble of setting up the Bistro Late Night and hiring employees and managers, only to close after less than a year. It is now becoming clear that this is a joint decision between the school and Chartwells. Chartwells employees are unionized, but many late night workers are new to the company and would struggle to find new positions. Other positions, such as in Mather or the Cave, are arranged via seniority, and employees must have at least 90 days of employment to enjoy union benefits such as job search assistance. The current late night staff enjoys their jobs and wants to continue making the students happy, and are understandable concerned about the threat to future positions.
There have been a few incidents of behavioral problems at Late Night Bistro, such as a student who accidentally broke the glass that protects the salad bar, and a handful of intoxicated students who have gotten a little rowdy, but these were not cited as reasons that the program will by cancelled. Bistro Late Night almost always has one or two campus safety officers on duty in order to make sure students stay safe.
Employees and students who are concerned about personal budget may seek a solution to Bistro Late Night solution to low revenues at Bistro Late Night would include new and exciting menu items, which were planned for the fall semester, and an increased emphasis on beer and wine sales. Currently alcohol is available on Fridays and Saturdays at Bistro Late Night for of-age students, but sales are not high due to expensive prices and cheaper options for alcohol at fraternities or in dorm rooms. An unnamed employee also suggested that raising prices on some of the Late Night menu items would increase revenues. Currently, pancakes at Late Night cost $2.99, which is a fairly inexpensive option. With the proper notice to students, and an explanation of the situation, raising prices slightly could cause enough extra revenue to keep Late Night open.
The low revenues reported by Chartwells seem counterintuitive, since any visitor to Bistro Late Night would know that the crowds are usually there. But many students visit Late Night Bistro as a social option and do not actually purchase food or beverages. The employees are happy that students like the atmosphere and space, but unfortunately if their sales do not improve, there will be no choice.
While neither Chartwells nor the college has announced this change to the students, rumors of the news have been spreading. Students who converse with Chartwells employees have only heard one side of the story, as it is not general knowledge that there will be a late night option in the Vernon Social Center. Although attendance at last semester’s open house was fairly low. Many students have friendly relationships with these employees and are concerned about their future positions on campus. The Vernon Social renovation is very exciting for students, as the dining and entertainment options will fill a gap that even Bistro Late Night has been unable to complete. However, communications between Chartwells employees, Trinity administration, and students has been somewhat lacking.