Without much money to spend, and without much energy to venture too far off campus, Vassar students don’t have many options when they get the late night munchies on a week day. Thankfully, the Retreat has come up with a solution to this issue.
Starting Thursday, Oct. 30, the Retreat added a few later hours every Thursday through Saturday, from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.
Bruce Harms is the Retreat Food Production Manager and the Associate Food Service Director. He wrote in an emailed statement that from the start, Late Night seemed to something that could become a fixed part of the Retreat schedule in the future.
“We had 240 people take advantage of the later hours,” Harms wrote. “If things go well, this will be a permanent change to our schedule.”
Peter Inserillo, the Night Manager at the Retreat, said that the first night was incredibly successful. “The first night that we opened was a Thursday, and at eleven o’clock we got really rushed,” he said.
He added, “And it was also the first night doing it so a lot of new procedures and new foods. It was very interesting. It went very smooth, and then the next night it was even more steady, so that worked out a little better.”
Vassar’s Central Dining Staff is very receptive to suggestions from the student body. Late Night at the Retreat is one such example. Chris Hanaburgh, the Assistant Chef at the Retreat, said, “I heard that there was an overwhelming want from the students from management, I guess there were several emails or letters or phone calls that were present where management was approached saying that students would like later hours because its hard with their tough schedules, long hours of class and homework and everything else in order to rush down to the Retreat.” He continued, “We were approached and everyone was proactive for it. We’re here for the students.”
Hannah Matsunaga ’16 agreed that Late Night at the Retreat was essentially a student initiative. As the Vice President for Student Life, she deals with the non-academic aspects of student life at Vassar, including Campus Dining.
“I think the idea really came from the student body,” she wrote in an emailed statement. “People have been talking about late night food options since the disappearance of Late Night at the Deece, a project done by last year’s VSA but imagined by students for years and years before.”
Late Night at the Deece, however, a program started last year during the spring semester, was not exactly the same thing as Late Night at the Retreat, Harms explained.
“Late Night at the Deece was a program used to determine student interest in a late night dining spot. We determined that there was indeed student interest, but the Retreat was better suited to satisfy it. We could offer greater variety and the building was already open.”
Matsunaga added that the process of creating this new late night food option was the work of many people. “The idea for food at night can’t be fairly attributed to just one person. This was also a pretty informal process,” she wrote.
Matsunaga continued, “Students, both directly and through their VSA elected officials, communicated to administrators, specifically Terry Quinn, that they wanted late night options to look a certain way, and that’s what happened.”She added, “I think the project is fantastic and I hope people like it!”
The menu for Late Night at the Retreat is a little bit different from the Retreat’s normal offerings. If you’re craving a classic Retreat sandwich, their Retreat Burger, Retreat Veggie Burger, Buffalo Chicken Ciabatta or Wrap, Pesto Chicken Ciabatta or Wrap, and Breakfast Classic are still readily available to order.
For those looking for something beyond the Retreat staples, pizza, hot wings with blue cheese dip, mozzarella sticks with marinara, or even a combo platter, hot wings, mozzarella sticks, and homemade potato chips with a 12 oz. fountain soda are also on the menu with the perennial French fries and sweet potato fries available as a side.
In order to begin planning the idea of keeping the Retreat open for longer hours, Harms added that it wasn’t just a decision for those higher up in the Central Dining Staff. “We had to determine the menu and gain the support of the Retreat staff. It’s a lot to ask of people to work until 2 a.m.”
The staff that works Late Night is the same staff that works during the day. “Right now, late night hours are offered to our staff on a rotating basis, just as we offer all overtime,” Harms wrote. “The advantage would be that full time employees are paid time and one half for the extra hours.”
Louie Lou worked as a cashier at one of the recent Late Nights. He said that the process of determining the Late Night staff was very informal. “They just told me that they have this new stuff and they’re open late. One of the managers just asked me if I wanted to stay overtime, and here I am,” he said.
Inserillo added that having late night food hours has recently become a popular option at many institutions. “I work for Aramark and those food companies, that’s what they’re doing now. A lot of the higher education, they’re serving later at night so the students don’t have to go off campus.”
Central Dining and the administration have been working together to better improve the campus dining experience. Teresa Quinn, the Assistant Dean for Campus Activities, wrote in an emailed statement, “Future plans for campus dining will include late night dining on campus, and these test pilots, along with student input, will help determine the best location, hours and menu options for this dining option.”