After the renovation of Winthrop House and the addition of a brand-new campus grille, three other River House grilles are feeling the heat as they compete for undergraduates’ taste buds and BoardPlus.
Managers of Dunster, Eliot, and Quincy Grilles all voiced different perspectives on whether the opening of Winthrop Grille will take a bite out of their business. But they all agree on one thing: that their own grille will triumph in a time of competition.
“We're confused why you would want to write about any grille but The Dunster Grille,” co-managers Timothy H. Shea ’18 and Emelia R. Vigil ’18 wrote in an email.
Others, meanwhile, say they question if four grilles will over-saturate the already bloated River grille market.
“Eliot’s next to Kirkland, and Dunster’s next to Mather, which is next to Adams, and we’re kind of in the middle of everyone, so everyone already has a grille near them,” said Theo C. Lebryk ’19, an inactive Crimson editor who co-manages Winthrop Grille. “Profitability is going to be difficult.”
House grilles often function as late-night eateries and gathering spaces for undergraduates, and students can use BoardPlus, the $65 per semester they receive as part of their meal plans, to buy greasy grub long after dining halls and restaurants have closed for the night.
Each grille is free to design its own menu, a reason why Lebryk says he’s confident that Winthrop Grille will come out on top. He says he’s looking forward to marketing a unique menu with a “make-your-own-adventure type deal.”
“We’re going to serve bubble tea, churros, pizza, dumplings, as well as staples that other grilles have,” Lebryk said. “If you want to add Nutella, peanut butter, and Oreos to your milkshake, go ahead. If you wanna add Nutella to your grilled cheese, possibly also go ahead.”
This strategy contrasts with the other River House grilles’ menus, which vary slightly in price and offerings but all center on french fries, mozzarella sticks, and milkshakes.
Representatives from the other grilles, however, are sure that they can hold their own against anything that Winthrop has to offer. For Dunster and Eliot grilles, the spaces also serve to facilitate social gathering.
“Out of all the student grilles on campus, I think [Eliot’s] has the best social space attached to the facility,” said Jack C. Heavey ’18, who manages Eliot Grille.
But for Quincy Grille co-manager Walter F. Hill ’19, the Grille’s central and easy-to-find location makes it uniquely popular.
“There are lots of Houses in the River area where Quincy is the nearest grille,” he said. “We have a very prime location in the river, so historically we’ve had the most foot traffic and the largest customer base.”
Still, employees and customers of the older House Grilles acknowledge the challenges Winthrop Grille’s brand-new facilities may bring to their business.
“Considering that we are the oldest grille, and our infrastructure isn’t as advanced and modern as Winthrop, it does pose some challenges,” said Quincy Grille co-manager Denise J. Kwong ’19..
Despite the challenges of new competition, grille employees said they were glad to see Winthrop Grille up and running.
“There's enough Board Plus to go around, and I’m personally excited to see what they do with their space,” said Heavey.
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