Closure of Callahan dining hall highly possible
April 25, 2023
Callahan Bistro, the dining hall in the East Residential Village, is potentially planning to close for the coming academic year.
That’s according to Jeremy Alltop, the vice president for Administration and Finance.
“The possibility is more that it will close than it won’t,” Alltop said.
While there have been no final decisions made yet, housing will be presenting its estimated rates for the coming year to the Board of Regents in June. Whether the Bistro will close or not will play a factor into the costs that are proposed at the next meeting in June.
“This really is a financial decision,” Alltop said. Access, quality and affordability for students are among some of the top qualities the administration is considering in the midst of making their decision.
This year, around 400 fewer meal plans were sold to students compared to that of five years ago, which means some costs will have to be made up for in other areas. Plus, Alltop said, running two dining halls is quite uncommon for a university that has as few students living on campus as NKU.
U.S. News & World Reports quoted NKU’s total enrollment to be just short of 16,000 in fall 2021, and at that time, around 10% of students lived on campus. This would be equivalent to about 1,600 students. Typically, the administration would want to see around 2,000 students on campus per cafeteria, Alltop said.
Geography plays a large factor in the decision, though, as the East Village which is served by Callahan Bistro is a considerable distance from the rest of campus. While there are shuttle services offered to take students to and from the East Village to main campus, these shuttles stop at 8 p.m. on the weekends.
Some current Callahan Hall residents are less than thrilled about the idea of not having a dining hall in their housing region.
International freshman Joshua Osakwe posed that if the administration wants to close the Bistro, they might consider closing the entire dorm itself.
“Callahan dorm is pretty much outside the school vicinity,” Osakwe said. “It’s really gonna be hectic if there’s no Bistro here in Callahan and we have to walk all the way down to Norse Commons every single day for breakfast, lunch and dinner. It pretty much sucks.”
Another freshman and Callahan Hall resident, Ash Landis, is disappointed by the idea because the Bistro is a large point of advertisement for Callahan Hall.
“The whole advertising to get people to stay in this dorm was the fact that it had a dining hall. Really it’s off campus, so we’re already at a loss to access things that people who live on [main] campus have easy access to,” Landis said.
Both students, however, shared they already had disappointments with the East Village dining hall because of its limited hours and food selection.
Currently, Callahan Bistro is open 7:00-9:00 a.m. Monday through Friday, 5:00-9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5:00-7:30 p.m. on Friday. The cafeteria does not open on the weekends.
Osakwe said for himself and many other international students, it wouldn’t make much of a difference if the Bistro was closed or open. He feels the Bistro lacks good food selection in comparison to Norse Commons, so he already eats most of his meals at the other residential dining hall.
“The Bistro is like the plan B option most of the time. I just eat at the Bistro if I’m tired and don’t feel like coming all the way down to Norse Commons,” Osakwe said.
Callahan Hall hosts many international students, Landis pointed out. Many of these students do not have a car and would be required to take the bus or walk to Norse Commons for each meal. Landis is a resident of the Global Village Living Learning Community, which was started in fall 2022. The village was meant to mix international students and those with globally-centered majors together in order to ensure international students felt connected to campus, University Housing Director Scott Patton told The Northerner previously.
International student Osakwe questioned the impression it would leave on international students just coming to the United States if they had to walk a mile or board a bus each time they wanted to eat breakfast.
“I really don’t know why international students are here,” Osakwe said. “We are just totally far away from the school.”
As the administration continues to decide what will be best for the university, Alltop said they are considering many options to keep things affordable for students. Delivery service robotics might be a potential option, the chief financial officer said, which would provide increased 24/7 access to meals.
Alltop said besides the closure of Au Bon Pain in February, there are no current plans to shut down any of the other retail food services or dining halls.
Students who have concerns are encouraged to fill out the dining experience survey, which can be found at this link.