The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

The Voice of Bates College Since 1873

The Bates Student

First Time in Four Years: Den Opens For Late-Night Option

Robert Cropp ‘26
Poster advertising late-night hours at the Den.

The Bobcat Den reopened for late-night hours on Wednesday, Jan. 3 for the first time since COVID restrictions were lifted. 

The renovation of Chase Hall allowed for the re-opening of the Den in the Fall, but strictly for daytime hours. This grand re-opening was the work of much coordination and planning from different members of the Bates administration. 

Four of the major coordinators included Associate Vice President for Dining, Conferences and Campus Events (DCCE) Christine Schwartz, Director of Dining Services, Dining Conferences and Campus Events Cheryl Lacey, Retail Operations Manager Garrett Leavitt and Assistant Retail Operations Manager Rechelle Gamage. Gamage headed the Den’s reopening.

According to Leavitt, “This is Rechelle’s first chance stepping out on her own to run a team. I’m excited to watch her succeed.” 

According to the four organizers, a Bates College Student Government poll from earlier this year identified Wednesday as the most requested night for a late-night dining option. Staffing, however, has prevented an earlier inclusion of late-night hours. The staff detailed that at the beginning of the school year, there were 17 open positions in the Main Dining Commons. This meant that staffing the main student dining area was their first priority.

But recently, the “volume and quality of applicants has improved in the last several months” Schwartz said.

The applications solved one problem and created an opportunity; the managers were able to fill the vacancies in student dining and relieve pressure in non-student dining. But, in order to fully staff the Den and Commons, they turned to help from student workers.

Retail Operations Manager Garrett Leavitt described how the dining team interviewed and hired a diverse staff of students who were excited about the job. 

On the night of the opening, Kiara McGinness ‘27, a staff member at the Den said “It was really fun. It’s my first job here.”

When asked about opening the Den for other nights, Leavitt said, “It could happen, but we need to make it happen.”

Schwartz emphasized that it wasn’t only up to DCCE. “It has to be a partnership between the student body and us [DCCE],” She added.

Student Reception:

The opening of the Den was electrifying. Spirits were high, the food was delicious, and conversational chatter filled the warmly lit dining area. 

Myat Htut ‘27 attended the opening and was pleased by what she found. “I come here in the afternoons. But it feels more special being at night. This is perfect and so affordable too.” 

Others, like Sherlin Perez Gonzalez ‘27, had laptops out and were doing work while eating. “It’s a nice place to hang out with friends and get a break. Like late-night study.” 

Some of the students were appreciative. “The food is so good.” Jiwon Lee ‘27 and Joy Huang ‘27

“I think it’s wonderful,” Bunny Madan ‘26 said as she took a bite of a mozzarella stick. “I really like the mozzarella sticks.”

Some of the students who remembered the Den on their college tour remarked on how happy they were to finally have it as a dining option. “I’ve definitely missed it. It was one of those things I was really excited about when I was touring Bates. I haven’t gotten enough time to enjoy it as much as I liked, so being back here is a lot of fun,” Colby Michaud ‘25 said. 

Jamie Hollander ‘24, expressed her thankfulness for the new late-night spot. “I think it’s a great way to build community, stay safe on campus, and have fun.”

The Future of the Den

Though subject to change, the ultimate goal for the dining team is to have a combination of the Curb Cats food truck and the Den in operation. Both Leavitt and Gamage remarked on how, during the winter months, the food truck was sometimes difficult to bring to students. 

They recalled how during a snowstorm and negative degree weather they were able to provide a late-night snack option to students on weekends. No matter how warm the fryer was in the truck, the frigid Maine weather pierced through and created difficult working conditions. 

For the future (and warmer months) the dining team plans to open the Den on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays while the truck (weather permitting) will be open on Friday and Saturday nights. 

As for the beloved food truck, it isn’t gone. It is merely waiting for the warmer months to be utilized for the entire Bates community. From bringing food to the boathouse or football tailgates or using it as an option between the academic year and summer board plan, Curb Cats is still in operation.

Den Favorites

“The tater tots,” Gamage said, laughing.

Schwartz pointed over towards the back of the Den. “For me, it is the single booth where I hide if I want to get work done.”

Lacey shared that her favorite part ties the Bates campus to the inside of the Den. “While they renovated they used wood that came from the trees outside.” She pointed out the beautifully sanded elmwood tables that came from a tree on campus that had been cut down.

For Leavitt, it is the community. “Ever since I’ve started here, it’s been the community. None of my family had been part of Bates and I came in and instantly felt like I was part of something.”

Whether you want some delicious mozzarella sticks or another place to connect with friends, the Den will be open Wednesday nights from 8-11 p.m..

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About the Contributor
Hadley Blodgett, Assistant Arts & Leisure Editor
Hadley (she/her) is a Sophomore from Buckfield, Maine which is really close to Bates. She is a member of the Brass Ensemble and also the Jazz Band, and does music in her free time too. In her free time volunteers with the Auburn Community Concert Band providing free community concerts through the summer and winter. Besides a minor interest in music she also enjoys being outside and exploring parts of Maine she hasn’t been to before. Her favorite hike is currently Eyebrow Loop Trail. In her free time she writes, works, and also dabbles in photography.

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