By Maya Kaufman
In the small town of Gambier, it can be difficult for students to satisfy late-night cravings.
On Nov. 9, Nite Bites Café announced via Student-Info that they would be closing for the rest of the semester. David Thoensen ‘17, chief financial officer of Nite Bites, explained that the business is taking a hiatus in order to make improvements, which will include “taking drastic steps” to increase delivery speed, finding different methods of advertising and revamping the menu — new additions may include ice cream sundaes, nachos or breakfast items.
Nite Bites, a student-owned-and-operated establishment that serves up various sandwich and drink options in Peirce Pub on Sunday through Thursday nights, stays open between 9:30 p.m. and 12:30 a.m. The business began in November 2011, founded by members of the Kenyon College Entrepreneurship Club. Nite Bites receives approximately 70 to 100 in-house and delivery orders on any given night, according to Thoensen.
“We believe we have done well providing a late-night option, catering to student organizations and being an entrepreneurial outlet for Kenyon students,” Thoensen wrote in an email to the Collegian. “This semester has been our best financially.”
Director of Housing and Residential Life Jill Engel-Hellman remarked that Nite Bites fills a void in the late-night dining offerings in Gambier but that it may not be enough. “There’s [Nite Bites] during the week, but there’s not much on the weekends,” she said.
In order to make up for the lack of late-night food offerings on weekends, the Office of Housing and Residential Life planned a program called Midnight Munchies, in which administrators and Community Advisors were to sell food purchased in Mount Vernon late on Halloween night — ideally near a location where students would be partying.
Scott Gill-Jacobson, assistant director of housing and residential life, suggested the idea, based on his time as an Ohio University graduate student.
Although ResLife was unable to assemble enough staffers to host the event, the Housing and Dining Committee took to the concept of Midnight Munchies and have instituted it as a regular program.
Phoebe Roe ‘16, chair of the Housing and Dining Committee and a staff writer for the Collegian, sees the Midnight Munchies program as a much-needed addition to campus. “You need to look at what we’re missing,” Roe said. “It’s very unique to Kenyon that we don’t have a late-night dining option. I think most places do.”
To host Midnight Munchies, a group of volunteers must complete an OrgSync application and apply for a loan from Kenyon’s ODADAS funds, the product of a partnership between the College and the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services that provides money for alcohol-free events on campus. The group uses the money to purchase food in Mount Vernon and sell it on campus. After the event, the group pays back the loan and donates the remaining profits to a non-profit organization of their choice.
“So far it’s been a very highly positive reaction,” Roe said. “Most people jump at the idea of getting Chipotle right down Middle Path.”
Roe and the Housing and Dining Committee are currently working with the Archon Society to host this week’s Thursday Munchies as a test run. The Archons will donate the money collected from delivery fees to East Knox schools.
“We’re hoping that this program can raise enough money for school supplies, college application fees and other such expenses,” Archon Co-President Steve Kaplin ’15 wrote in an email to the Collegian. “The goal is to have both Thursday and Sunday Munchies each week.”
Although Roe and Kaplin are optimistic about the potential of the Munchies programs, Thoensen acknowledged the difficulties of operating a business in late-night dining.
“It is difficult to be a student and run a food business late into the night on top of all your academic responsibilities,” Thoensen wrote. “Students have to sacrifice a lot to provide this service.”