Nolan’s expands menu, removes lounge spaces

By DIVA PAREKH | September 7, 2017


After summer renovations, the University reopened Nolan’s on 33rd as a buffet-style dining facility on August 27. Previously, Nolan’s offered an à-la-carte selection, where students could choose from several dining stations.

While some students are pleased about the wider selection of food, others criticized the removal of  Nolan’s student union spaces and the increased meal prices. 

Sophomore Sarah Elnozahy was upset with the renovation, criticizing Hopkins for not considering the importance of social spaces.

“[This] shows that Hopkins doesn’t prioritize the social aspect of people’s lives,” Elnozahy said.

Junior Gopika Punchhi viewed the renovation, specifically the change to buffet-style dining, in a more positive light. She thought that the new menu includes healthier choices.

“The options available for buffet style are a massive improvement, since most of the food last year was fried things,” she said.

In an email to The News-Letter, Interim Director of Dining Ian Magowan explained that the decision to change Nolan’s to a buffet-style dining facility was in response to student feedback collected last fall.

“Students expressed a desire for more options and a style of service more reminiscent of the FFC [Fresh Food Cafe],” Magowan wrote. “In response to that feedback, we worked with Bon Appetit to create new stations that we believe provide quality menu selections and service to students.”

Nolan’s has retained some of the same food options and stations from before the renovation. New additions include Kitchen, where students can make their own omelets or stir fry, Bun, which has two pre-made sandwich options (one meat-based and one vegetarian) and Dough, with different pizza and pasta options.

Nolan’s was formerly a student union and lounge and served as a space for programming hosted by both Hopkins Dining and student groups. Events such as trivia night and karaoke will no longer take place at Nolan’s. Programming for students is now focused on the FFC and the LaB.

Student lounge aspects such as the pool tables, projector and armchairs have been replaced with extra dining chairs and tables.

Junior Patrick Pichling appreciates the change to buffet-style dining.

“I like the buffet style better than the old style because there is more room for variety,” Pichling said.

Other students such as junior RA Séamus Ryan-Johnson approved of the increased quantity of food.

“This way, you’re not paying for a meal that could be less than what you really want to eat,” he said.

Ryan-Johnson said the change in cost was reasonable considering an increased availability of food.

“They justified the increase in price with the [change] to buffet style,” he said.

According to Pichling, the quality of the food seems to have improved.

“[It’s] probably due to it being a different kind of food than it being the same food of better quality,” Pichling said.

Punchhi enjoyed some of the new additions to Nolan’s, along with some of the aspects that remain unchanged.

“I like that they kept the made-to-order burgers and the salad bar. The ice cream bar was a good addition as well,” she said.

However, some students miss previous food options. Junior Sasha Gorelik wished that Dining had retained stations like One Bowl from last year, and junior Joice Im was disappointed that the Taqueria station no longer existed.

Punchhi also misses the programming at Nolan’s.

“It was nice to be able to participate in events during dinner as opposed to setting another time aside to do so,” she said.

Junior Victor Akinrinmola agreed.

“Our school doesn’t have too many [student union spaces], and getting rid of those rubs me the wrong way,” Akinrinmola said.

Some students think that the remodel is a way to draw more students to facilities such as the LaB, though Ryan-Johnson feels that it is too far away to be accessible.

“I don’t think many students will have a reason to go there,” Ryan-Johnson said.

Magowan explained that the decision to remove student lounge spaces in Nolan’s was made to maximize dining space.

“We added to and updated the seating layout to give students more comfortable spaces while dining,” he wrote. “Student Leadership and Involvement (SLI) supported the transition and has used the opportunity to focus on enhanced programming in The LaB, Levering and the Mattin Center.”

Students were also disappointed that they can no longer  spend time at Nolan’s without paying to enter the facility.

“You can’t just go in there to sit and hang out anymore,” Elnozahy said.

Im agreed that Nolan’s is no longer a social space.

“I miss the hangout space in Nolan’s because I used to walk in with my friends... but now we can’t,” she said.

Pichling, however, approves of the addition of extra dining space.

“I don’t mind the fact that they took out the lounge aspects, [I] never really used them and I rarely saw anyone else use them,” he said. “I’ve had more of a need of seats than a pool table to be honest.”

Some students are looking to other meal plans due to the changes in Nolan’s. Ryan-Johnson said that the all Dining Dollars meal plan available for sophomores has become less attractive.

“There might be people who [chose] the complete Dining Dollars meal plan because they were in a financial situation where they needed the cheapest meal plan,” Ryan-Johnson said. “Now increasing [the cost] to $10 means that you’re going to have considerably fewer... dinners available if you’re on that Dining Dollars plan.”

He hopes that the University can do something to further aid such students financially, though he and Akinrinmola agree that the improvement in quantity and quality does help alleviate some of the financial burden.

Meal prices have increased from around $8 for food from one of the multiple stations to $9.99 to swipe into the dining hall.

Through the Meal Exchange program, sophomores, juniors and seniors on any meal plan but the 1425 Dining Dollar plan can use their meal swipes at both the FFC and Nolan’s.

Before this fall, Nolan’s was open from 5-8 p.m. for dinner and from 8-10:30 p.m. for late night. The new hours of operation are 5-9 p.m., with no more late night option available.

Magowan believes that changes to the dining facilities do not negatively impact accessibility of meals for students.

“This transition has had no effect on the cost of meal plans for students,” he wrote. “There is now a much larger variety, offered in an all you care to eat design, giving students more options to choose from at a better value than its previous model.”

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