‘Inconvenient’ and ‘unnecessary’: Eatery closure over the summer presents challenges for students staying on campus


Nate Yonamine | Senior Staff Photographer

The outside entrance to The Eatery in Litchfield Towers.

By Adrienne Cahillane, Staff Writer

For Caroline McCully, a second year supply chain management major, the closure of the Eatery made finding food on campus over the summer increasingly difficult.

“I have way less access to food places than I’m used to,” McCully said. “It’s aggravating.”

Pitt Eats announced in February that the Eatery will be undergoing major renovations. According to the Pitt Eats website, “dining concepts will go offline and reactivated in segments throughout the 2023-2024 academic year.” Before the “phased construction approach” begins, the kitchen is being renovated resulting in the entire dining facility closing for the summer. The Eatery will have certain stations open at the beginning of the 2023-2024 school year.

Caroline McCully, who is working as a New Student Ambassador, is one of many students staying over the summer for various on campus jobs. 

As a New Student Ambassador, McCully receives a meal plan as an incentive for working over the summer, but believes it’s “tricky” to find food she can use her meal plan on. The only available meal swap options, including the restaurants in WPU or the Cathedral Cafe, are operating on a limited schedule.

“It’s all very inconvenient,” McCully said. “The meal swap places close at 6:45 pm, so hours are not very flexible.”

Nick Pagano, the marketing director for Pitt Eats and the communication lead for the Eatery renovation project, believes the current eatery is “outdated” and also cites changing dining preferences as a cause for renovation.

“First the space is outdated and is in need of an infrastructure update and the last time the space was properly renovated was over a decade ago,” Pagano said. “We conduct surveys to learn about the dining preferences of Pitt students, faculty, and staff. What we’ve seen over the past few years is an overwhelming preference towards the retail experience — similar to what is offered at the food courts around campus.”

The eatery closure over the summer also presents challenges for prospective students visiting campus. The New Student Ambassador program helps facilitate the Panther Connect Programs, but McCully says the eatery closure is “difficult” to work around.

“We’re ordering from catering companies, I believe,” McCully said. “We are having an issue in terms of space. We can have people eat in the quad no problem, but if it rains we will have to find an indoor space for 325-ish people to eat.”

McCully also believes the eatery is a “big part” of the Pitt experience. 

“It’s unfortunate that the kids paying money to come to Panther Connect won’t be able to see it,” McCully said. “The Eatery is so big, it can be hard to navigate at first.”

Sumayyah Borders, a sophomore biology major, is staying over the summer to give campus tours with Pitt Pathfinders. She said that the on-campus dining options are “limited” and quickly grow tiresome.

“It gets very repetitive to eat the same things almost every day,” Borders said. “Plus, the only food place that is open on the weekends is Forbes Street Market.”

McCully also thinks that the renovation is “overkill.” 

“I also think the Eatery being closed for renovation is unnecessary especially if it’s only for aesthetic purposes,” McCully said. “It was renovated recently and it feels like a waste of time and money to do it again.” 

Pagano said the project is finally in full-swing after Covid-related delays.

“This renovation has been in the works for 3 years,” Pagano said. “Due to the impact of Covid, the project was delayed — but now that campus has stabilized, now is as good of a time as ever to launch the project. After several years of planning, we are so excited the project is finally underway.” 

Despite the challenges, Borders still feels that the Eatery closure does not influence the prospective students on her tours.

“I generally tell students that the Eatery is currently being renovated,” Borders said. “But since a lot of them tend to be rising seniors, I notify them it’ll be done by Fall 2024.” 

Pagano said the changes will not only be aesthetic but also change how food is served.

“Aesthetically, the construction will not only change the footprint of the dining hall, but even the exterior of the building — adding an entrance on Forbes Ave where The Market at Towers currently sits,” Pagano said. “The style of service will also change. New concepts will no longer operate as your typical self-serve dining hall stations. Everything will be prepared and served by order from the workers at each concept.”

Pagano has high hopes for the new Eatery.

“To put it simply, our main goal is to create the best college dining facility in the country,” Pagano said. “Something that nobody has seen before. We want students to look forward to visiting the Eatery every day. We want other universities to see what we made at Pitt and try to replicate it.”