Pritchett Dining will not reopen this coming fall, according to Richard D. Berlin III, director of Campus Dining. The discontinuation of Pritchett Dining, a response to a student-led plan for improvement of east campus dining options, was announced in conjunction with the decision to rollback the semester fee for Preferred Dining to $300 for the coming fall.
"Closing Pritchett allowed the price of Preferred Dining to be decreased," Berlin said. Earlier in May, in response to a Baker House report on Preferred Dining, Campus Dining decided to freeze the price at $325 for the next three years. At the time, Dining said that a fee rollback would not be possible.
Berlin said Dining was losing amounts in the six figure range by operating Pritchett, though he could not immediately provide the exact dollar amount.
Reasons to close Pritchett were outlined in a June 18 letter sent to Dining by members of the Undergraduate Association and the presidents of East Campus and Senior House.
"After two years of operation Pritchett is only serving 55 meals a night and operating at a significant loss," the June 18 letter stated. "… We feel that the benefits gained by the few students using Pritchett do not warrant its continued operation, so we suggest that students would be better served by extending food truck hours into the evening."
According to the letter, Pritchett Dining is not suitable for east campus culture because the student kitchens serve as major focal points of social activity.
Dining responded in a letter on June 25, saying that Dining agreed "generally" with the student letter and that Pritchett would not reopen in the fall. "Though the collaboration … to create a house dining style operation at Pritchett was well intentioned, the committee perhaps did not fully appreciate the culture and social structure that happily exists around students preparing their own meals together at East Campus and Senior House," Dining stated in the June 25 letter.
UA President Martin F. Holmes '08, one of the authors of the June 18 letter, said that subsidizing the cost of campus dining with the money saved is a step towards a better overall campus dining experience.
With the loss of Pritchett Dining, Berlin said that there are two possible avenues being considered for the fall. The first addresses students' concerns for a healthy dining option by extending the hours of the Forbes Family Café in the Stata Center so that it remains open from 58 p.m. (The Café is currently open until 5 p.m.) The Café would be open Monday through Thursday, because it is not well patronized on Fridays, Berlin said, and would serve food similar to that of the Steam Café (located on the fourth floor of Building 7).
"The extension of hours at Stata dining to serve food similar to Steam Café will make it easy for EC residents who want convenient take-out to, for instance, take with them to evening classes," EC President Sarah C. Hopp '08 said in an e-mail.
The other possibility includes extending evening food truck operation after relocating the trucks to McDermott Court, Berlin said. Regardless, Berlin said, the food trucks will eventually need to be moved from their current location due to construction of the cancer research building regardless.
In terms of plans for the space that was occupied by Pritchett Dining, Berlin said he does not yet know how the facility will be used in the future. According to Berlin, the E.M. Baker Foundation is in discussion with the Division of Student Life to turn Pritchett into a new free visual arts studio.
There is no plan as of yet for Pritchett's electronic equipment, Berlin said, which includes a wide screen television and a surround sound stereo.
The June 18 and June 25 letters are available at http://www-tech.mit.edu/V127/N29/dining/students.pdf and http://www-tech.mit.edu/V127/N29/dining/campusdining.pdf.