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Students Praise Alpine Bagel’s Food, But Criticize Restaurant’s Long Waits

By Veena Ramaswamy

Alpine Bagel Cafe opened to general acclaim last Friday, but students complained of interminable waits as the new Student Center restaurant continues to hire more employees to meet the unexpectedly high demand.

“The best way to describe Alpine right now is a work in progress,” said Chris Sullivan, an Alpine representative.

MIT is Alpine’s seventh college location, but its opening weekend here “has been extremely busy, much more than we’ve seen at any other school,” he said.

Construction delays had set back the opening by two weeks, and the rush to open has given Alpine growing pains. The restaurant has started photocopying its menus. On Sunday night, Alpine closed two hours early, posting a sign outside its door: “Out of food. Closing at 9.”

“It’s been a real challenge so far,” Sullivan said. “Our staff missed out on very valuable training time.”

Alpine’s food receives acclaim

Aside from criticism of the long lines, students have been generally complimentary about the quality of Alpine’s offerings, which include bagels, burgers, pizza, and smoothies.

“The food has been pretty good -- better than [Courses],” said James R. Warren ’04, referring to the previous restaurant in Alpine’s space.

“The smoothies here are really good,” said Alma E. Rico ’06.

“The smoothie business is insane,” Sullivan said. “We certainly didn’t anticipate the volume to be so robust.”

“The quality of the bagels and pizza are great for the prices,” said Richard D. Berlin III, the director of campus dining. “I worked with Alpine at Duke and they did a super job there, so I thought they’d be a good choice for MIT as well.”

Unlike Courses, Alpine makes its bagels fresh, Berlin said. The MIT Alpine’s pizzas and burgers make its offerings broader than at other universities, he said.

Alpine pledges to improve service

“There has been a lot of positive feedback so far on the food,” Sullivan said, but “there have also been some service issues.”

Sullivan pledged to improve the waiting times. “The service experience is not where it needs to be, but also not where it will be in a few weeks,” he said.

Part of the service improvements will come from hiring more employees to meet the demand. “We now have six students who work here, but we’d like to get that number to ten,” said Steve Baum, Alpine’s vice president of operations.

The restaurant is normally open until 11 p.m. on weeknights, and until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

The other new Student Center restaurant, Arrow St. CrÊpes, is slated to open late this month.