After 8:30 p.m. on Sundays through Thursdays this semester, Peirce Dining Hall was rarely empty. Late Night Peirce, a new Kenyon dining experience, took the student body by storm and, according to AVI Resident Director Robert Zoldack, attracted roughly half of the students on campus each night.
During Late Night, students had access to cereal, bread, fruit and the occasional cannoli in the servery, but the main staple was hot food and ice cream. Late Night’s convenient hours, alongside its popular menu selection, resonated with students on campus.
The workers of Late Night shifts were primarily students, serving hot food and overseeing servery operations.
“I enjoyed working late-night and had fun on shift with my co-workers,” Late Night student worker Charlie Muller ’23 wrote in an email to the Collegian. “I enjoyed serving students who were always appreciative and enthusiastic about what we had on the menu each night.”
In addition to Late Night’s comforting nature, students enjoyed the menu because they had a say in its creation. In early September, Chair of Housing and Dining Ever Croffoot-Suede ’23 sent a Google Form to students in residence, asking them about their dining preferences. Based on this student input, Late Night meals included mac and cheese bites, corn dogs, nachos, jalapeno poppers and churros topped with spicy chocolate sauce. Often times, an ice cream cart was parked in the middle of the servery with a variety of options.
“I thought late night was important for the student body this year,” Rocco Danese ’23 wrote in a message to the Collegian. Danese added that he appreciated the opportunity for students to get out of the dorms and socialize while enjoying late night cravings.
Much of Late Night Peirce’s appeal stems from the menu’s mystery. The Late Night menu wasn’t posted online like its lunch and dinner counterparts, which created a sense of anticipation and curiosity around the dining experience. The question of what the night’s menu was circulated among friends, evening seminars and study sessions. Some students used social media as a means of asking for and reporting Late Night’s menu.
An anonymous group of students responded to questions about the menu by creating an Instagram account, @latenightkenyon, the sole purpose of which is to inform students of the night’s menu. Despite only having two posts, the account has garnered nearly 200 followers.
“We think the question ‘what’s for late night?’ is definitely something that’s now ingrained into the hard drives of all of our phones,” the account owners wrote in a message to the Collegian. “There’s always that one champion in the friend group who braves out into the cold night to find out what’s going on for late night only to report back that YES THERE IS SOFT SERVE TONIGHT!”
It was only the last full week of classes when a Late Night menu was displayed at dinner; prior to this development, students did not know what to expect unless they traipsed into the dining hall.
Late Night promptly cultivated a culture of collaboration. Although Peirce closed its doors at 11 p.m., leaving an hour of dining for those with evening seminars, some students made getting food from Late Night a priority. Ian Krein ’24 and Daria Beshentseva ’22 didn’t waste a minute trekking from northern Farr Hall to Peirce during their Thursday-evening seminar breaks. Making it back just in time to enjoy their meals, the two recalled feeling satisfied and nourished after returning to class.
Late Night also provided students with an outlet for spontaneous social interactions.
“I really enjoyed going to late night and bumping into friends and classmates, especially during quiet period when it was harder to see people,” Sally Smith ’23 wrote in a message to the Collegian. “The chicken potstickers were often the perfect way to liven up a study session as well.”
“[Late Night] definitely became something to look forward to,” @latenightkenyon said. “We really used it as a way to get out of the dorms and see our friends in a time that was difficult to do both of those things, and just in the span of the short semester it really incorporated itself into all of our daily lives of students.”
Late Night served as a second dinner, late dinner or early breakfast, depending on students’ schedules. “Late-night was really awesome because sometimes between rehearsals and classes and work it was hard to have time to make it to Peirce for dinner,” Ali Bianco ’23 wrote in a message to the Collegian, “so it was nice to have late-night just in case we missed dinner [earlier].” Bianco also noted that Late Night allowed students to save money they would have spent on evening pizza deliveries.
The account owners also expressed their gratitude to the student workers, pointing out that they truly made the Late Night Peirce experience special. They also thanked Croffoot-Suede, who served as a liaison between AVI and the student body.
Croffoot-Suede concurred that Late Night was a satisfying experience for students in residence.
“I am so happy people enjoyed it,” she wrote in an email to the Collegian, “but I want to remind everyone that it will only continue happening if people continue to attend.”
Students quickly found that — no matter the answer to the question of “what’s for Late Night?” — chances are they will still leave their dorms, study sessions or classes to enjoy a nighttime meal.