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In Defense of ‘New Restaurant’

Philip Burrowes

I was unnaturally excited about the opening of the restaurant on the first floor of Stratton. The food was good, as I remembered, but not exactly of Bertucci’s caliber, so I wasn’t truly excited by the culinary prospects. It turned out that I had become addicted to my meal card. That thing could do it all: open doors, borrow books, and buy soda if I could ever find a vending machine that would take it. This new restaurant would present one more function for that unassuming piece of plastic. Several obstacles arose, however, before I could taste those buffalo wings I remembered, this time with the aid of my multifaceted meal plan.

To begin with, like any MIT initiative, it was delayed. I faintly recall a scheduled opening in early September, but verifying that would require research, and if we’ve learned anything from the Spanish-American War (besides the fact that our flag doesn’t shield women*), investigative journalism is evil. There was definitely an opening scheduled for the eighteenth, leaving me quite surprised when it was indeed open on the evening of the twenty-first.

I didn’t notice any actual buffalo wings on the menu, leaving me to wonder if I had actually ever eaten at Networks, but I did notice the name. Lobdell had posted its new operating hours outside its doors (I was once again pleasantly surprised to find out that Lobdell hadn’t stopped its breakfast hours until the new restaurant had opened; I have actually come to expect such bureaucratic miscommunication) with a cheerful reminder to visit the new restaurant. Only, the message didn’t read “... the new restaurant.” There was no “the,” and “New Restaurant” was capitalized.

At first, I was appalled. They had dumped “Networks,” a term which actually appears in a large number of the courses at MIT and yet also described the social scene of your average university dining area, but for what? I imagined an MIT student body so unimaginative and apathetic that the best submission for the new name had come from one smugly sarcastic Course IV** major who stumbled from the Dome CafÉ one day. Worse yet, perhaps Aramark, had become so totalitarian as to create a contest that only it could win. I shuddered at the thought.

Then, something odd happened. I started referring to the place as “New Restaurant,” and it grew on me. If fit in so perfectly with the MIT naming scheme (or lack thereof). Suddenly, the named seemed satirically poignant, and I imagined it as the work of some Course XXIV major who had decided to live among us for the day. Nobody really networked at Networks anyway.

Supposedly the actual name isn’t “New Restaurant,” and will be determined later. Well, I say we relish the name it has now while we still can. Throw parties in its honor. Write poems in praise of its perpetually precative praenomen. But don’t eat the food. It’s nasty.

*It should be obvious. I mean, it’s only cloth. Yet, it was the subject of a Richard Harding Davies’ exposÉ during the Spanish-American War. Yes, the fact that I researched that borders on irony. Sorry.

**I have nothing against architecture. I like the Dome CafÉ and the Rotch. Plus, they have supercomputers.