Courtesy of Francis Dzikowski

The Bow Wow, a new convenience shop in the basement of the Schwarzman Center, is up and running this semester — but not every Bulldog is happy about it.

The store, which carries grab-and-go food and drinks, as well as academic and personal care items, is seen by many as a replacement for Durfee’s Sweet Shoppe, the Elm St. convenience shop that students used to frequent. When the COVID-19 pandemic struck in the spring of 2020, Durfee’s closed indefinitely. Many students had turned to Durfee’s — which featured more expansive hours than dining halls — for grab-and-go food options, especially on days when their class schedules were incompatible with the dining halls’ lunch swipe hours. But some students say that The Bow Wow’s meal swipe policy and hours aren’t as accessible as its predecessor’s were.

“I’m sure Yale lost money on Durfee’s and is trying to make The Bow Wow less of a budget burner,” Emma Knight ’23 said. “It seems to me that they are prioritizing aesthetics and [classiness] rather than making sure kids get fed.”

Adam Millman, senior director of retail, catering and auxiliaries for Yale Hospitality, wrote in a statement to the News that: “The Bow Wow‘s design was based on subject matter experts and consultants providing specific recommendations to support an enriching student experience. Consultants, architects, and project team members collaborated on all facets of functionality, space utilization, movement/flow and ease of operations.”

According to Knight, The Bow Wow accepted lunch swipes until 4 p.m. in the early weeks of the semester — an hour earlier than the 5 p.m. cutoff at Durfee’s in previous years. Though a change was never formally announced, a paper sign announcing that The Bow Wow would stop accepting meal swipes at 3 p.m. appeared on the store’s door in late September.

Christelle Ramos, senior manager of marketing and communications for Yale Hospitality, told the News that while residential dining service hours have always been from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there was a technology glitch in the previous academic year allowing meal transfers until 5 p.m, and the Yale Hospitality team was not aware of the glitch until late in the spring 2021 semester.

It is unclear whether this glitch was responsible for The Bow Wow’s extended lunch swipe hours in the early weeks of this semester. Yale Hospitality did not respond with clarification at the time of publication.

The reduced hours have posed a logistical headache for some students. Isabella Hay ’24 told the News that on Tuesdays, she is busy with classes from 10:30 a.m. to 12:50 p.m. and a lab from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Because the dining halls and The Bow Wow are all closed by the time she gets a break, she usually ends up picking up a late lunch from a local restaurant using the Snackpass app.

“It’s not super ideal to have to simultaneously waste a meal swipe and spend extra money on a lunch every week, so I think it would be helpful if Yale had an additional meal plan option that allowed students to pay for fewer lunch swipes,” Hay said.

The dilemma has prompted some students to get creative. On the days when Hailey O’Connor ’24 — a copy editor for the News — has three classes back-to-back, getting out after 3 p.m., she runs to The Bow Wow right when it opens. At 11 a.m., O’Connor snags several granola bars to tide her over throughout the day. “An unrefrigerated sandwich or salad kept in my backpack all day is not exactly appetizing,” she said.

O’Connor said students should be able to use their daily meal swipes with more flexible timing, and that a grab-and-go storefront should be available throughout the day, rather than during lunch hours alone.

The Bow Wow is also only open on weekdays, while Durfee’s accepted brunch swipes on the weekends in previous years.

Bob Sullivan, senior director of residential dining at Yale Hospitality, told the News that despite changes in hours, students still have added flexibility with the new Flex Meal Plan, which Yale Hospitality developed in response to the reopening of Commons and the addition of The Bow Wow. The plan has the “highest number of points ever included in a Yale meal plan,” Sullivan said. 

“This meal plan was specifically designed for students who have a need for less meals in residential colleges, and more flexible options between and after dining hall service hours,” Sullivan wrote in an email to the News. “Not many students are aware of this.”

Sullivan added that although the meal plan transfer deadline has passed, Yale Hospitality has been accommodating of student transfer requests, as they recognize information about the various plans “may not have been at the forefront for a lot of students” due to the pandemic.

Construction began on the Schwarzman Center in 2018.


Clarification, Sept. 28: The article has been updated with more specific details on when The Bow Wow stops accepting meal swipes.

Olivia Tucker covered student policy & affairs as a beat reporter in 2021-22. She previously served as an associate editor of the Yale Daily News Magazine and covered gender equity and diversity. Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, she is a senior in Davenport College majoring in English.