Durfee’s closed indefinitely, The Bow Wow offers alternative
Durfee’s is closed, but new food shops present an alternative for Yale community members.
Yale Daily News
While Yale students returned to in-person courses and access to campus buildings this fall, one place that will not be reopening for the foreseeable future is Durfee’s Sweet Shoppe.
On the Elm Street side of Old Campus, Durfee’s was a convenience store open to students from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m daily, offering students food and household necessities. After it was revamped in 2017 to include more food options and a higher swipe value, the store was a frequent lunch spot for many Yalies — especially for first years living on Old Campus. According to On-Campus Hospitality, the store had $1.3 million in annual sales.
But Durfee’s closed in the spring of 2020 with the onset of the pandemic, and according to Katie Oca, guest experience manager for the Schwarzman Center, Durfee’s will remain closed for the 2021-22 academic school year with no definitive plans to reopen. There is an alternative: The Bow Wow, a one-stop convenience shop situated in the recently renovated Schwarzman Center.
“[The Schwarzman Center] might feel a little less central to first years, but also,  first years are not all on Old Campus anyway,” said Eugene Thomas ’22, a first-year counselor for Ezra Stiles. “But I think it will be cool for anybody, especially after this past year. The Bow Wow and Commons in general is a good place for running into people randomly.”
The Bow Wow is one of the Schwarzman Center’s newly created spaces for Yale students and the general public. It opened on Sept. 1 and allows students to use their meal swipe of $9.50 to buy items during lunch hours. The store sells fresh fruit, sushi, grab-and-go sandwiches and salads, campus essentials, spirit gear and more. Like Durfee’s, the store is marketed to “people on the move,” unlike other food spaces with sit-down seating in the center, according to the center’s website.
Oca said the feedback she has heard from students thus far is that it’s “more efficient” than Durfee’s because of the four self-service checkout kiosks. She added that it was also “less enclosed” than Durfee’s.
Alexis Lee ’22 expressed similar sentiments. Visiting The Bow Wow for the first time on Wednesday, Lee said it was nicer than Durfee’s because it was “way less congested” during lunch hours. She added that she liked the variety of options and the centralized location of the store. Kendall Ertel ’24 agreed, highlighting the sushi and healthy food options available.
Still, students reflected on the role Durfee’s had in their Yale experience.
“Durfee’s was really an integral part of my first-year experience … because of how often I would go there,” Jay Baptista ’23 told the News.
Baptista said he wouldn’t be too disappointed without Durfee’s, but was sad that it is gone.
Thomas expressed similar sentiments, describing Durfee’s as a “cool social experience.”
Thomas, who lived in Lawrance Hall as a first year, recalled the chicken tenders, chatting with the employees and bumping into peers in his class as some of his favorite moments in Durfee’s. While he was surprised the store did not return this fall, he said that having an alternative was exciting.
While the future of 200 Elm St., where Durfee’s was previously located, remains unknown, Oca said that chicken tenders will also be offered in the Schwarzman Center. The Underground — a space for casual dining that includes a stage for entertainment — will feature chicken tenders on the menu. Oca said it will open at a later but not yet specified date.
The Bow Wow is open Monday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.