After receiving feedback from diners about its operating hours, Rebecca’s Late Night Café in the Pritchett Dining Hall within Walker Memorial (Building 50) is now open from 3 to 11 p.m., Monday through Friday. The move is intended to make the café more accessible to community members who are seeking more dining options during the day and evening.
The café, which until recently was a staple of nearby Kendall Square for decades, launched in February to “nothing but positive” feedback according to Mark Hayes, director of campus dining. The Division of Student Life (DSL) has been working with faculty and students for the last two years on enhancing food and dining at MIT, and when a survey suggested the need for more dining options on the east side of campus, DSL teamed with students to assess the type of eatery that would offer the right mix of products at the right price point. “We put a small committee together to meet with students to understand what food on the east side of campus means to them,” said Naomi Carton, associate dean of residential life and dining. “And one of the things they kept saying was they really liked when Rebecca’s was in Kendall.”
As development of the café got underway, undergraduate and graduate students from across east campus participated in review meetings to help select furniture for the space and even curate the menu. The mix of menu items was shaped by students during a series of tastings, Carton noted. “Rebecca’s came in with tables and tables of food, and students got to taste what they liked.”
“It’s not possible to overstate how important Naomi and the rest of the DSL team have been in listening to student concerns and working with students,” said Jerry Wang, one of the graduate students who participated in the development of the café.
The resulting menu includes noodle and quinoa bowls and meal boxes, which are offered within their requested price range of $3 to $8, as well as tea, coffee, and other delicious café snacks. “They have a great mix of really nice, made-to-order, highly nutritious dishes,” said Hayes.
Wang agreed and said, “I’m very encouraged and excited about the increase in healthy options around campus.”
Rebecca’s Café is part of an ongoing pilot program, and Hayes was quick to dispel rumors that circulated recently suggesting that the café is closing before the end of the academic year. “Students were under the misapprehension that everybody’s going to come back from spring break and Rebecca’s would be closed,” he said. “But we think the adjustment in hours will help make it a regular destination during the later afternoon and evening.”
In addition to the changed hours, DSL has started programming musical performances in the space, the first being singer/songwriter Paola Cisneros. The Undergraduate Association has also started discussions on programming for the café, including concerts and study breaks. In addition, there will be a series of free cooking demos with Rebecca’s Café chef Tony Cascino to teach quick and easy recipes from their menu. The demos will be hosted in Pritchett Café on Thursdays at 6:30 p.m. on April 5, 12, and 19.
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