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Hungry as Hell: Eliot House ‘Inferno’ Grille Set to Reopen After Three-Year Hiatus

Eliot House Grille is nicknamed 'The Inferno' as it was the source of a fire in the House more than two decades ago.
Eliot House Grille is nicknamed 'The Inferno' as it was the source of a fire in the House more than two decades ago. By Elias J. Schisgall
By John N. Peña, Crimson Staff Writer

Eliot House Grille is just over a week from a much-anticipated reopening following a three-year closure triggered by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The grille, nicknamed “The Inferno” after it was the source of an Eliot House fire more than two decades ago, is slated to open on Oct. 20 and will join the grilles in Dunster, Pforzheimer, Quincy, and Winthrop houses as spaces offering students a wide range of late-night food choices to pair with their studies.

Henry Xuan ’25, who is spearheading the grille’s revitalization alongside fellow Eliot resident Kevin Wang ’25, said the pair took the lead on opening the space this year after an effort to reopen last year was stymied by staffing issues.

Wang said wanting to “contribute to the culture” in Eliot was his motivation for reopening the grille.

“I think Harvard lost a lot of traditions during Covid. So bringing back one of what we hope was one of the most popular, or at least enjoyable, for both Eliot and other river houses, is the main goal,” he said.

Staffing issues will not be a problem for The Inferno’s opening this year according to Xuan, who said he and Wang have received more than 35 applications to work in the grille.

Xuan said he hopes Eliot Grille will be a place where students can socialize and meet other members of the house.

“It’s a pretty special space for students to come gather and connect, which embodies the spirit of Harvard in my opinion,” he said.

Kate O. Gilliam ’26 said she is eager to participate in the social space provided by the grille.

“I definitely will be looking forward to getting to know more people in Eliot. I think as a sophomore, it’s really cool to get to know upperclassmen who live in the house,” she said.

Xuan and Wang hope to officially reopen The Inferno for the weekends, with plans to eventually expand weekly service from Thursday through Sunday nights.

Saya H. Mitchell ’25 said she is “super excited” for the grille to open.

“I am a junior, and I’ve never known an Eliot that had one. For me, it feels like it’s the beginning of a whole new era,” she said.

In addition to offering a menu featuring the “Domus Domus” double patty burger and a broad selection of milkshakes, the grille also features menu items named for House figures. For example, the “Sue Meltman” grilled cheese is an allusion to longtime Eliot House Administrator Sue Weltman, while the “Doug Meltin’” grilled cheese is a nod to former Eliot House Faculty Dean Douglas A. Melton.

Xuan said he hopes to bring live entertainment to the grille.

“We have ideas on getting DJs, acapella groups, even dance performances there, which is all things they did at The Inferno before it closed down,” he said.

“I’m hoping it’s poppin’,” Wang added.

—Staff writer John N. Peña can be reached at john.pena@thecrimson.com. Follow him on X @john_pena7.

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