The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Storming the Castle for weekend hours

IT'S AFFECTIONATELY referred to by students as the "grease pit." Its defining characteristic is the rancid smell of grease that permeates through students' hair and clothes once they leave the "pit," subduing even the most expensive colognes and body washes. Despite these descriptions, the Castle snack bar is one of the most popular places to eat among University students, especially those first-year students living in the old dorms. With a diverse selection of food items ranging from the saturated fat-filled Cyclops burger to cereal and milk, the Castle serves as an alternative to dining hall food and a haven for those looking to satisfy the midnight munchies.

Related Links
  • UVA Dining Services

    With all its popularity, it would seem logical that the Castle also would be open on weekends, perhaps even with extended hours. As it stands now, the Castle is closed all day on Saturday and open on Sunday only from 4 p.m. to midnight. Although Dining Services decided to implement the current dining hours based on the experience that business was slow on weekends, the hours are based on the student response well over four years ago. The current popularity of late night eating and the need for better dining options on weekends should prompt the Dining Services to reconsider its decision and change the operating hours of the Castle to include lunch and dinner on the weekends.

    While dining halls serve the purpose of providing basic meals during the week, students look for alternative dining options during the weekends. Students are no longer restrained to a schedule which steers them into Newcomb Hall for a quick bite to eat between classes. This is most apparent from the fact that Newcomb is closed for dinner on Saturday and even O-hill fails to attract its usual share of first-year students on the weekends.

    The Tree House remains open from 4 p.m. to midnight on both Saturdays and Sundays for students living in the new dorms. It seems unreasonable to assume that students in new dorms are hungrier and more willing to eat on the weekends than students in old dorms, as the current disparity in hours between the Castle and Tree House would suggest. There's no reason why the Castle could not attract a similar number of students from old dorms. Dining Services poses the argument that the Tree House is designed to accommodate all students, and not just those in the new dorms. But most students from old dorms agree that it is much more convenient to walk to the Castle than have to hike to the Tree House or even the Pavilion. First-year student Heather Bergmann said, "It is unfortunate that the Castle can't provide the same convenience for us on the weekends that it does on the weekdays. Perhaps Dining Services doesn't realize the student necessity for a place to eat, at a time when students will do anything to avoid walking to O-Hill or the Pav."

    Taking advantage of closer and more convenient dining options for lunch on weekends, as opposed to going to the dining halls, becomes necessary for those who have trouble making it to dining hall hours. Perhaps because of an overdose of partying the night before, many first-year students come across the problem of missing the normal operating brunch hours on weekends for Newcomb and O-Hill.

    The apparent number of student's that the different dining halls attract for lunch correlates with their location to where students are at certain times. For example, Newcomb is the busiest during lunch on weekdays because it is the closest option to classes. However, on weekends, when students aren't as likely to be near central Grounds, Newcomb draws fewer students and the need for a dining option near the dorms becomes evident.

    The argument set forth by Dining Services with regards to its operating hours for the Castle is that business has generally been slow in the past for the weekend.

    A quick glance at the ritualistic weekend habits of many first-year students will show that many will take full advantage of a late night dining option as well as lunch. After long Friday or Saturday nights shaking their bon-bons, students usually come walking, or stumbling, back home with one objective transcending the rest: food. In order to avoid living on left over crumbs, students flock to places such as littlejohn's to satisfy their hunger.

    An overflowing line of students inundates the various eateries that are open on weekends. While proving that students are willing to purchase food at late hours, this also illustrates certain shortcomings of not having a University-sponsored snack bar open at night. First, eating at the Corner is an inconvenience to students. The Castle is closer to any first-year dorm than the Corner is, so many students probably would prefer to eat at the Castle. Second, dining options at the Corner do not accept Plus Dollars, a fact that becomes important when students are looking to save on cash. Students would probably not hesitate to take advantage of a place that is much closer to their dorms.

    By creating operating hours to serve the students late night on weekends, the Castle not only will service the needs of these students, but perhaps also become an after party hang-out like littlejohns is now. This would generally increase the amount of food purchased at the Castle, possibly even compensating for slow business during the earlier hours of the night when students are not in their dorms.

    Since the decision to close the Castle on the weekends was made years ago, Dining Services should realize the needs of the current student body and change the operating hours accordingly.

    The Castle may smell and even clog arteries just at the sight of greasy burgers being flipped, but the "grease pit" deserves more recognition as a dining option.

    (Faraz Rana's column appears Fridays in The Cavalier Daily .)


    Latest Podcast

    Today, we sit down with both the president and treasurer of the Virginia women's club basketball team to discuss everything from making free throws to recent increased viewership in women's basketball.