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Cheap Food, On-Campus Drinks Draw Students to BC After Dark

BC After Dark served up burgers right off the grill, salt-dusted curly fries, and hummus platters for its opening weekend—all for half off. But the freshly grilled food is not all that drew the crowds on the warm spring weekend, according to Brendan Barnard, MCAS ’21.

“I mean [the drinking] is why we came,” Barnard, who visited the new on-campus restaurant on Saturday night, said. 

BC Dining will be serving beer, wine, and spiked seltzers alongside a variety of food offerings in the restaurant retrofitted in Hillside Cafe on Thursdays from 5 p.m. until midnight, and Fridays and Saturdays from 4:30 p.m. until midnight. 

Crowds overwhelmed the restaurant on the Thursday night grand opening, causing food orders to fall 40 minutes behind, according to an Instagram post from the Undergraduate Government of Boston College, who partnered with BC Dining to open the restaurant.

“People are having a good time and a safe time,” Molly Denning, one of the attendees and MCAS ’24, said. “The only issue was that since it was so fun and popular, more people came than they planned which is why they fell behind. Maybe they could just put a cap on the orders in the future.”

The restaurant features a fenced-in seating area outside Hillside, which is covered by a canopy of trees wrapped in bright holiday lights. UGBC slashed food prices in half for opening weekend, offering burger costs that rivaled those of fast food joints.

Christian Guma, UGBC president and CSOM ’21, said in an email to The Heights that seniors were central to the creation of BC After Dark. 

“Trying to score victories for the seniors was a priority of mine,” Guma said. “[BC Dining] had been eyeing up something like this since before we got into the picture. It seemed like now everything aligned perfectly to get it done.”

Kevork Atinizian, UGBC vice president and CSOM ’22, said in an email to The Heights that BC After Dark is a COVID-19-safe alternative to risky off-campus bars.

“As the fall progressed we noticed that campus morale was low, and students were going off campus and into bars which posed a risk to everyone,” Atinizian said. “In every meeting we had with administrators we brainstormed ideas as to how we could keep students on campus while lifting morale at the same time.” 

Before BC After Dark, there were no on-campus food options for students on Fridays and Saturdays open after 8:30 p.m. this semester. Parents complained to BC Dining about limited hours of operation at dining halls at a Zoom meeting in October.

“It’s good weekend food because BC Dining’s weekend food literally sucks so hard,” Stephanie Barry, MCAS ’23, said. 

Aside from being open late, many students found the fact that BC After Dark is on campus compelling. 

“I think this is very distinct, and respect to BC Dining for pulling something like this off,” Barnard said.

Guma said the restaurant offers students a reward after a year of commitment to UGBC’s #KeepTheHeightsHome campaign, which urged students to follow safety protocols to protect the BC community from COVID-19.

“I look forward to seeing my fellow students enjoying themselves,” Guma said. “It’s been a tough year, there’s no question—so to be able to see your friends and fellow classmates having fun is going to be pretty awesome. The students deserve this for the job they did in staying safe and ‘Keeping the Heights Home.”’

Students were required to make reservations and pick up their pre-ordered food on the way in, before ordering drinks.

“Due to the capacity limits, along with the state law requiring a purchase of food before buying alcohol, students will need to reserve a time slot through GET Mobile,” Guma and Atinizian said in the email. 

Although many students enjoyed their experiences at BC After Dark, some had a few suggestions. Barnard said BC Dining should consider playing music at the restaurant and making the prices of alcohol cheaper.

“Yeah, it seems like if they made it like more of a bargain, … maybe some music could go a long way,” he said. “I don’t know, it needs some work.”

Barry said that although there was a nearly 30-minute wait time for her food, she understands that opening a new restaurant never goes exactly to plan. 

“I think they were working out the kinks of a new restaurant,” she said. 

Barnard said that despite the prices and lack of music, he looks forward to returning to BC After Dark in the future.

“I think BC After Dark is still a work in progress but I’m excited to see the final form,” Barnard said.  

Barry said she hopes to see BC After Dark return in coming academic years.

“I kind of hope it becomes a permanent thing,” Barry said. “It was really nice.”

Correction 4/12/2021 2:33 p.m.: A previous version of this article misattributed a sentence to UGBC President Christian Guma, and that sentence has been removed.

Featured Image by Nicole Vagra / For The Heights

April 11, 2021