Loker Grand Opening Set for Jan. 4

One month after opening its doors, Loker Commons will swing into full gear on January 4 with performances by students, free food samples and a sweepstakes featuring prizes such as an espresso machine.

The grand opening will be an opportunity to celebrate the new space built and designed for undergraduates, according to Eric C. Engel, director of the Memorial/Lowell Hall complex.

Annenberg Hall, the new first-year dining facility above the commons, will also open on January 4 to both first-years and members of the public.

Visitors will be able to tour the hall and view a slide show about the building's history, Engel said.

During the grand opening, students can also begin using their identification cards to purchase food at the commons. Harvard Dining Services (HDS) will automatically credit all accounts with $75 in "Crimson Cash" redeemable at Loker. Students may also use the $25 allocated each semester for guest meals in the commons, which contains pizza, Mexican and ice cream stands and a coffee shop.

These funds will expire if unused at the end of the spring term, said Associate Director of HDS Leonard Condenzio. A brochure detailing the Crimson Cash plan will be available in January, he added.

December's "soft opening" of the Commons was necessary for HDS to test its recipes and equipment, Engel said, although some administrators were concerned that it would leave students less excited about the grand opening.

"A soft opening is very common in the restaurant industry," Condenzio said. "It gives you a chance to handle the volume."

Engel said he is concerned that many students may not have returned to campus by January 4, but other officials did not want to hold the grand opening any later in reading period.

"I'm hoping that the prizes, food and entertainment will prompt people to come by," Engel said. "If nothing else, it's a good time to try all different kinds of food."

Condenzio encouraged students who have not yet seen the commons to visit the grand opening.

"It will be a successful day if everyone finds time to come down and take a look at the space and see what Harvard has worked so hard to create," he said.

Food samples will be available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The student groups performing between noon and 10 p.m. will include the Harvard Band, the Gilbert and Sullivan Players and the On Thin Ice improvisation group.

A newsstand featuring periodicals, candy, beverages and student-produced publications will also be in place for the grand opening, Engel said.

No other physical changes will be made to the commons in anticipation of the grand opening, Engel said, although officials have been evaluating student input.

"The feedback has been almost entirely positive, but there will still be a lot of growing pains," he said.

"The whole first year is going to be an adjustment period," he added.

Condenzio said that in response to customer suggestions, recipes for salsas and calzones have already been altered and more staff have been assigned to the Mexican food stand.

Beginning on January 4, Loker Commons will have extended hours for reading period; it will be open from 8 a.m. to 3 a.m. The coffee shop and pizza stand will continue serving until 2:30 a.m