Branford dining woes continue

Lunch in Branford College is a rare event these days. That’s because it never happens.

Two months into the school year, Branford’s dining hall is still not fully operational, and with construction hang-ups all over the college, students are up in arms.

Branford was slated to be fixed up over the course of last year as part of a University-wide initiative that will see the renovation of each of Yale’s 12 residential colleges. But the Branford renovation went awry when the construction blueprints didn’t correspond to the building’s actual structure and delays kept the college’s servery from being completed on time.

Branford students were forced to eat in a tent until Sept. 26, when their dining hall reopened with food imported from Jonathan Edwards College. Branfordians were each given 35 Flex Dollars as compensation for the inconvenience. Branford is currently open for dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays and for continental breakfast Monday through Friday. The air conditioning is still not up and running.

The dining hall staff is doing what it can to mitigate the situation.

“We’ve tried to give them everything we possibly can,” said Julia Esposito, who has worked for Yale University Dining Services for 19 years. While she expressed regret for the delays, Esposito said that she and her daughter, who both work the breakfast shift in Branford, were ready and willing to help get students the kind of food they want.

Few people eat in the new Branford dining hall — only about 20 to 30 students show up each morning for breakfast, Esposito said. That number is low in comparison with JE’s tally of approximately 100 morning customers.

Berkeley, Davenport and JE have all become havens for refugee Brandfordians, and Branford’s community life seems to have been negatively disrupted by the lack of a dining hall, Vanessa Wolf ’01 said.

“The thing that is most troubling [is] I don’t have any forum to meet with other Branford people,” Wolf said as she sat down to breakfast on Friday morning.

“The delays have been disappointing,” said Jason Arroyo ’02, who complained about the incessant construction work that keeps many from sleeping.

Arroyo’s friend Chris Eckerle ’02 said he was disappointed that the common room, the basement and the library remain incomplete as well.

Despite the renovation difficulties, Branford dining hall manager Chris Pascale spoke glowingly of the good things that have come out of the renovation. She said that Master Steven Smith — who was unavailable for comment — had unattractive, yellowing plexiglass removed from college windows. Paintings of former Branford masters were retouched, and the globes in the lighting fixtures were replaced.

Pascale added that the new dining hall, which will share a downstairs kitchen with Saybrook, will include a host of new features including an open-air grill where students can see their burgers and chicken being cooked. This means a student can request his or her food cooked a certain way.

Pascale and her co-manager Mildred Moore said they were sympathetic to student complaints.

“If you’re a Branford student, wouldn’t you want to eat in Branford College?” Pascale asked.

Branford's Buttery was recently completely, along with the TV room, laundry room, and computer lab.
Olivier Belzile
Branford's Buttery was recently completely, along with the TV room, laundry room, and computer lab.

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