BC After Dark, a late-night food option offered at Hillside Cafe, is currently shut down due to staffing shortages and low student attendance, according to Director of Dining Services Beth Emery and Associate Director of Restaurant Operations Megan O’Neill.
“BC After Dark (BCAD) at Hillside was open Thursday and Friday nights in the fall, but due to low attendance and staffing shortages, BCAD is currently closed,” Emery and O’Neill wrote in an email to The Heights. “Based on collaboration with UGBC and CAB, Hillside will be open for special events for student groups and occasional Thursday nights for coffee and desserts.”
Opening in spring 2021 as a collaboration between BC Dining and UGBC, BC After Dark offered students a variety of food and drinks, including alcoholic beverages, on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights.
Despite the program’s initial popularity, Emery and O’Neill said BC Dining decided in May of 2022 that it would close BC After Dark on Saturday nights because only about 100 students were attending.
BC After Dark was still open on Thursday and Friday nights through the Fall 2022 semester, but according to Emery and O’Neill, it was only busy when Late Night at Lyons was unavailable.
“For comparison, Late Night at Lyons sees over 1000 students (some nights break 1,500 students) and is clearly more popular,” Emery and O’Neill wrote to The Heights. “We continue to experience staffing challenges and find it particularly difficult to find cooks and managers that are willing to work the late night shift.”
With the program’s closure, BC Dining now offers no dining options after 8:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday nights. Emery and O’Neill said BC Dining plans to reopen BC After Dark once it can recruit and hire enough student and culinary staff to run the program.
Daniel Wise, a SA representative on UGBC’s Dining Advisory Board and MCAS ’25, said the shutdown of BC After Dark is unfortunate but just one of BC Dining’s problems over the past few years.
“It’s another issue with dining that goes along with a host of other issues that have been going on this year really, and really in the past two years with BC Dining,” Wise said. “But we do understand and sympathize with the fact that they have had trouble hiring workers, and we know that that’s a national issue right now.”
Michael Martin, MCAS ’25, said he is disappointed that BC After Dark will not be a late night option anymore, but he understands the staffing issue.
“I think there should be options for students on the weekends,” Martin said. “But that obviously entails appropriate staffing, which, I mean, I remember there were issues with staffing last semester too, because they couldn’t open the Rat on Thursday nights.”
Jessie Boyle and Lily Adler, both MCAS ’24, said they went to BC After Dark a few times after hockey games. Boyle said she enjoyed attending BC After Dark her freshman year, but she recognizes why it is closing given the low attendance.
“It’s a bummer,” Boyle said. “It was fun freshman year, and I liked that they had White Claws and alcohol and stuff. I thought it was nice for when you’re 21, of course. But it makes sense that they’re closing it, if it’s not busy.”
Adler also said she enjoyed having BC After Dark as a late-night option on Lower Campus, instead of having to walk up to Middle Campus for Late Night at Lyons.
“I guess it was also more convenient being on Lower, versus having to walk all the way to Lyons,” Adler said.
UGBC is discussing how it can potentially utilize the now-vacant space at Hillside Cafe by hosting other activities and events for students, according to Wise.
“For example, having little BC student-run bands perform in there sometimes, or a possible thought was having, for example, like an ice cream bar instead, something where the kitchen doesn’t have to be utilized, but food can still be provided to students, and not much staff is needed,” Wise said.
Emery and O’Neill said if student groups show interest in hosting events at Hillside, BC Dining would consider offering food options during their programming.
“If a student group is interested in hosting an event at Hillside this semester, we will consider offering the coffee bar and desserts in conjunction with student programming,” Emery and O’Neill wrote. “Email us at [email protected] with your requests.”