Pipe break closes Branford dining hall

Instead of “Say what,” a more appropriate cheer for Saybrook last weekend might have been “Say, what are all these people doing here?”

An unusual number of Branford students dined in Saybrook over the weekend after elevator problems forced Branford’s dining hall to cut service for the weekend.

On Saturday morning, a pipe in the Branford dining hall froze and then burst, flooding the elevator shaft that connects the kitchen and the serving area. The flooding disrupted food service in the dining hall, and students wanting hot food were forced to find other places to eat.

The Branford dining hall served continental breakfast all weekend but was closed for lunch and dinner until Tuesday. The dining hall will now open for lunch and dinner but will only serve soup, salad, deli items and food from the grill. Because the elevator carries hot entrees up to the dining hall and dishes down to be washed, students will have to make do with paper plates.

Repair crews are currently trying to remove the water around the elevator motor so they can determine whether it can be fixed or needs to be replaced. Dining Services Director David Davidson said that even if “the worst case scenario” takes place and a completely new motor is required, the dining hall will be completely open by the end of the week.

“Marie Pascale [manager of the Branford and Saybrook dining halls] and her staff have been working very hard to make sure this inconvenience is tolerable,” Davidson said.

Branford College Council President NaHyun Cho ’03 said most of the displaced students ate their meals at Saybrook’s dining hall. Davidson said that the Saybrook dining hall was “a little bit busier than normal” but did not experience any problems.

“It is an inconvenience, but what are you going to do?” Cho said.

Davidson said water from the pipe flooded the elevator shaft and also damaged an electrical panel nearby. In addition, the water froze over the motor that runs the elevator. There was no damage to the dining area itself.

Davidson said similar problems had occurred in the past in other dining halls on campus.

“It happens from time to time,” Davidson said. “You’re just very dependent upon the elevator.”

This is not the first time the elevator has caused a disruption in Branford’s food service. In September, the elevator’s motor caught fire and stopped hot food from being served for a few days.

Branford College Master Steven Smith had the flu and was unavailable for comment.

Smith’s administrative assistant, Alicia Heaney, said she thought the master was satisfied with the progress dining services had made in making the hall fully functional again.

“We have every faith the dining hall is doing everything they can to get it up and running,” Heaney said.

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