Anyone passing by the 1855 Room on a given evening would see a radically different scene from when students packed into the restaurant last year, waiting for seats during the popular buffet style nights. The tables are as perfectly set as ever, draped in linen and topped with fancily folded napkins, but at times there’s not a single person sitting at them.
“The number of students coming here has been a lot less,” Alison Hickman, sophomore psychology major and waitress at the 1855 Room, said.
The 1855 Room, the College’s “upscale” dining hall, has experienced decreased dinner sales with the discontinuance of its buffets, such as Pasta Night, which used to attract a crowd of 50 to 80 patrons on Sunday and Wednesday evenings, according to Joanna Hower, marketing coordinator of Dining Services.
“With Eickhoff (Hall) serving all-you-care-to-eat dinner every night, it would be redundant to have all-you-care-to-eat dining in The 1855 Room,” Stephen Hugg, marketing director of dining services, said. “Even for students on all points plans, a dinner at Eickhoff (Hall) is less than most of the buffet nights are at the 1855 Room.”
With the new Carte Blanche plans offering 150 to 400 points to use at dining locations outside Eickhoff Hall, students have become more mindful of where they spend them.
Now, about 10 to 20 students come to the 1855 Room a night, Kerri Davis, catering director, said.
Jonathan Cherng, sophomore mathematics and statistics major, said he used to dine at the 1855 Room once or twice a week but won’t be going as frequently this year.
“With the whole Carte Blanche system and the limited points we have to use it’s so unfeasible for us because the meals are so expensive,” Cherng said.
As for Carte Blanche replacing the popular buffet nights at the 1855 Room, Cherng does not consider the trade-off a good one.
Although Hugg said, “Between the International Station and the Classics station in Eickhoff (Hall) students can eat all the pasta they want almost every night,” Cherng said this theory does not happen in practice.
“Every time I go to Eickhoff (Hall) and I ask for pasta, they give me half a plate and I have to wait 20 to 25 minutes in that line,” Cherng said. “That’s preposterous.”
Hugg said dinner lines at the International Station are “only an issue at peak dinner hours,” around 5:30 p.m., and the Classics station “rarely has a line.”
“We ask customers to come back for full second portions of most entrees – it ensures that the lines keep moving and that the second portion is as fresh and hot as the first one,” Hugg added.
Hower and Hugg both said they expected dinner attendance to increase as news of the restaurant’s new a la carte menu spreads and the 1855 Room is used to complement on-campus events.
“The food is better and there’s a lot more variety,” Hickman said. Guests are also served their soups and salads rather than having to go up to a bar.
“I give them an A plus,” Fred Figliano, junior technology education major, said while dining at the 1855 Room last week. “The staff is very accommodating. They didn’t have the appetizer I ordered so they’re giving me my dinner salad for free.”
Starting this semester, the 1855 Room is under the new management of Catering Services. Davis said the menu has been revamped so that the 1855 Room can provide “something you can’t get at every (dining) place.”
Another feature of the 1855 Room will be its collaboration with theatre and athletic groups, which will sell ticket packages that include a pre-event meal at the restaurant.