During my two semesters at Georgetown, I have been amazed by my professors’ ability to take complex material and condense it into something students can “digest.” My professors genuinely know how to “get down to the basics,” helping me comprehend difficult concepts. However, dining establishments on the Hilltop seem to be taking this helpful teaching tactic to an extreme by forcing customers to really get down to basics. By this, I mean eating without utensils.
I stumbled upon this commonality during my most recent visit to Bulldog Tavern, which opened November of last year. Georgetown administrators and students hoped the pub would be another location for Hoyas to socialize and build relationships. Contrary to expectations, Bulldog Tavern was given poor reviews by The Hoya shortly after opening, mainly for, among other things, its bad customer service.
As I sat down during my short visit to campus over the summer, I was again dissatisfied with the subpar service that I remember defining my previous experiences at the pub. Yet I was surprised by how busy the restaurant was compared to my past visits. I suppose students have more time to wait for mediocre food during the summer months.
After quite a long wait for my food, I was eager to finally dig in, but realized I didn’t have any utensils. Unlike every other restaurant I have dined at, both good and bad, gourmet and not, here I was not greeted by a set of cutlery upon arrival at my seat. I asked my waitress for a fork and knife so I could begin eating, and she nicely replied in the affirmative, justifying herself by apologizing and stating that the restaurant has been trying to cut back on waste. Confused, I inquired, “What do you mean?” She retorted, “Well, we haven’t been doing too great lately, and the managers say we need to cut back on waste. So, we’re not giving utensils unless people ask because a lot of food we serve doesn’t require them, and we don’t have to clean them if people don’t use them.” I seem to have forgotten the remainder of the conversation, most likely because of how baffled I was by that statement.
How in the world can a restaurant in the modern day (other than one of a cuisine not conducive to cutlery) not serve utensils? My mind was blown. Then I remembered that I attend Georgetown, a place where the dining options are so beyond atrocious that students impatiently await the year they are liberated from the wretched meal plan requirement. Mentions of a three-year meal plan requirement resulted in a fierce resounding “no” in an online petition that garnered many signatures.
During my daily visits to O’Donovan Hall last year, I remember a complete lack of utensils, cups, plates or bowls — the basic tools necessary for eating — at any given time. I have memories of my friends drinking chocolate milk out of cereal bowls because they couldn’t find cups by the milk dispenser. They often completely dismissed the idea of walking downstairs in search of cups because by the end of their journey, their food would be cold.
This was a recurring complaint I brought to Aramark employees during my tenure on the Dining Committee, which met semimonthly. In meetings, they routinely assured me that the problem would be resolved as an assistant ferociously took notes. Sometimes, employees informed me that an extra batch of cutlery had been purchased. However, these reports ran contrary to complaints of absent cutlery resurfacing at the next meeting.
Additionally, as a Georgetown University Student Association senator last year, I often heard students complain about poor food quality and lack of variety, all of which are somewhat subjective. Nevertheless, these complaints would be much more excusable if Hoyas actually had the ability to eat the bad food on their plates with a fork and knife. The incident at Bulldog Tavern this summer has reminded me, after my digestive tract’s two-month hiatus from Leo’s, that Georgetown dining needs to make significant improvements. We deserve cutlery, and we need to fix this shortage before we address food quality.
I’m not a restaurateur. I am simply calling on Georgetown dining establishments to realize that Hoyas are civilized individuals. Please give us the basic respect that diners deserve and provide us with a fork, knife and spoon. They don’t even need to be rolled in a cloth napkin.
Adam Shinbrot is a sophomore in the College.
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