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The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The student news site of Guilford College

The Guilfordian

The new Grill experience: is it worth eating there?

Early College Juniors play a round of pool at one of the grills newest attractions.
Mahgoub Elmardi
Early College Juniors play a round of pool at one of the grill’s newest attractions.

After being closed for nearly a full semester, the Grill reopened Nov. 14 with very little fanfare. The new space sports a renovated kitchen, a new paint job, tables for pool and ping pong, and a line stretching almost out the door at lunchtime.

In my experience here at Guilford, the Grill has always been a more popular option for dining than the dining hall. The food is good in both places, but I don’t think it’s the main reason people prefer the Grill. 

The dining hall just feels like a dining hall, something you would find on any school campus. The Grill, on the other hand, feels like a real restaurant and a place to hang out with friends.

The new design of the Grill is appealing, with bright lights and white walls that are much sleeker than the old unpainted brick. The menu is the same, and the food isn’t any better or worse than it used to be. 

There are also new games, table tennis and pool, though I haven’t had a chance to play either of them yet — which brings me to my biggest complaint about the new Grill: the crowds.

There was very little hype on campus for the reopening of the Grill. Most people expected it to be closed for longer, for there to be more of a buildup before the doors opened, maybe a poster or a banner somewhere on campus advertising it. But when it actually opened, there was just an email announcement and nothing else. So it’s kind of surprising how many people showed up on opening day, with a line that stretched all the way from the counter out to the vending machines.

Most of the people in line were college students, but I saw another significant presence  that day  — Early College underclassmen. When I was a freshman at ECG, I heard rumors that we were hated by the college students for being loud and obnoxious, an unwelcome presence in spaces meant for Guilford students. After witnessing the crowd at the Grill that day, and on most other days since, I understand their frustrations.

There are about 50 students per grade at ECG, a small number compared to most high schools, but a very large number when all of them are crammed into a line waiting for food. If you went to the Grill on opening day at lunch time, it was possible that you never actually got a chance to order food. You could spend so much time waiting that your next class would start before you hit the front of the line.

This is even more of an issue at Rachel’s Rose Cottage, where the much smaller space pretty much guarantees a line out the door during underclassman lunch. When their payment system was down and the Cottage was giving out free drinks, I remember seeing people waiting on the path outside just to be let in. Having these kinds of dining options on campus is a huge benefit for college students, but that benefit is almost entirely erased if they can’t actually eat at these places because of the crowds.

 Obviously this isn’t entirely the fault of the ECG students. There were still a ton of Guilford students in line. But the crowds will definitely start to thin out as fewer ECG kids show up. 

I remember when I was an underclassman, the situation on opening day was much the same. The Grill was packed with ECG kids, eager to try out the food and the experience of the place. But as the year went on, fewer and fewer of them showed up as they all realized that they didn’t have jobs or meal plans, and thus couldn’t afford to eat at the Grill every day. I imagine the situation this year will be much the same.

If you can’t handle the crowds at the Grill, it’s probably a good idea to eat at the dining hall until they die down. And if you were never a fan of the Grill in the first place, the changes probably won’t be enough to win you over. It’s still the same old Grill, with the same food and the same students, more of a remaster than a remake. 

Personally, I’m fine with the redesign, and I like the food enough to eat lunch at the Grill regularly. But I’m going to wait a few weeks for the underclassmen to lose interest, because even good food isn’t worth a 30-minute wait.

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