Lunchtime in Bartlett
scores (and uses) dining points.
China clatters, flatware clinks, woks
sizzle, and diners talk. From 11:45 a.m. until 1 p.m. each
weekday Bartlett Dining Commons—the erstwhile Bartlett
Gym—is in the middle of lunchtime hours and in full
swing. Eleven food stations, with names that would be at
home in a suburban mall (Diner, Harvest, Simmer Soups, the
Cutting Board & Kosher Deli, the Big Salad, Pizza Fresco,
Sweets, Global, Pasta Kitchen, the Grille, Flavors of Asia)
draw steady lines of faculty, staff, and students.
For students there are almost as many
payment options as menu items: Bartlett takes cash, credit
and debit cards, and Flex dollars (deducted from one’s
Chicago Card). For those on some of Chicago’s meal
plans, dining points (1,100 or 600 points per quarter) are
the currency of the day.
Seating choices include secluded
corner tables for four and refectory tables dedicated to
different residential houses. Because lunch is about meeting
and greeting as well as eating, the couches and armchairs
that dot the mezzanine (the former running track) are empty
except for an occasional worker on break, escaping the dining