Leo Café to Close

Limited Meal Swipes Introduced in Commons for Students With Classes in Leo,
Dante’s May Close

The Leo Café will close its shutters for the last time at the end of this semester.

The popular dining venue in the basement of the Leo Engineering building will close once the Kelly Commons and its new dining options become available for students to use in the fall of 2014. Dante’s Den on the ground level of Thomas Hall may also close in the fall pending an official decision from an administrative committee.

Freshman Alex Sciacchitano uses a meal swipe in the Leo Cafe.
Freshman Alex Sciacchitano uses a meal swipe in the Leo Café.

“Leo [café] is going to close because of the opening of the Kelly Commons,” Dean of Students Michael Carey said. “It looks like Dante’s will also probably close.”

The closure of the café does not come without alterations to the Kelly Commons dining plan system that administrators presented to students last month in an open meeting.

“We do have some feedback and made some alterations to stuff based on what the students said,” Carey said.

The biggest alteration is that students with classes in Leo will have access to limited meal swipes in the Kelly Commons’ dining venues. If a student has a class in Leo or RLC before 2 p.m., his or her student identification card will be programmed with a meal swipe for use in the Kelly Commons between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.

“We are going to get a list of students and where their class is so we will be able to program it in,” Carey said.

As for what will happen to the space that the Leo café and the old bookstore is currently occupying, a space reallocation committee has assembled to resolve those issues.

For students and staff who do not want to travel to eat in the commons, the vending options in Leo will be expanded to include real food choices that will be replenished daily.

“The goal ultimately is that you can use your card in the vending machine,” Carey said, although he said that this program would not be implemented in time for next year.

Because of the closure of possibly two dining areas, students should expect updates to the current dining facilities.

“Locke’s is going to have a new and expanded menu,” Andrew Weingarten, interim director of residence life, said. This menu includes better allergen and gluten free options, which has become a bigger priority for administration.

“They’re hearing our feedback which we’re hearing from you guys,” Carey said with respect to allergen options.

The convenience store that was formerly in Dante’s will move to a new location.

“There will be a new convenience store with an expanded and enhanced lineup of products on the Café 1853 level,” Weingarten said.

Café 1853 will also feature an extended menu with more healthy options, Carey said.

Carey and Weingarten said that these changes came after student feedback.

“We felt strongly we had to do something,” Carey said.

Students expressed mixed views on the closure of the Leo café.

“I think that’s fine because [the commons] is not too far from the school,” senior Josuel Rosario said.

Roger Alayo, a junior, said he sees the fact that engineers in Leo eating in the commons as a way to blend main campus and lower campus.

“Now we can interact with main campus a lot more,” he said. “If they put in some pool tables [in Leo], put in something the other schools don’t have so they will want to come here and socialize with us more.”

Carey also said he hoped the student commons would become a place for socialization.

“Hopefully it will be nice enough that people will want to congregate and work,” he said.

Other students see potential challenges with the decision.

“I’m kind of disappointed that they are closing this,” junior Raphael Guida said. “This is really convenient for us. I feel like everyone could gather here more easily,”

“We intern a lot so we need to eat really quickly and go to class,” Alayo said. “That’s why Leo café was so convenient.”