Oscar’s, the late-night dining venue located in the lower level of Hasbrouck Dining Hall, was reintroduced in full capacity at the beginning of the spring 2013 semester after an overwhelming outcry from the student population, Executive Director of Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) Steven Deutsch said.
The venue, which was renamed Hawk Street Station in 2009, was a staple of the campus community and was missed by students after it closed prior to the fall 2012 semester, Student Association (SA) President Josh Simpson said.
Deutsch said CAS worked to move the late-night dining facilities entirely to the Student Union (SU) to complement the newly extended hours. Part of this process meant that the Hawk Street Station venue and its accompanying convenience store and sandwich shop would close to make room for a new location for the campus bakery.
However, the move was not received well by students, due to space and limited options, Simpson said.
“It wasn’t a bad idea to have the food options in the [SU], because hours had just been extended,” Simpson said. “The SU isn’t adequately equipped.”
Although there was no official survey administered to the student body, Simpson said student complaints and requests for the return of Oscar’s were often heard by SA E-board members.
The student voices urged SA to begin the process of bringing back the Hawk Street Station facility they missed and to begin the conversation with the current campus food provider, Sodexo. Simpson said the company was willing to engage in the necessary discourse to bring students the dining options they wanted.
Beyond the food, another thing students wanted, Simpson and Deutsch agree, was the atmosphere of the original Oscar’s.
“Throughout the process, I always made it a point to call it Oscar’s — that part of the history is being preserved,” Simpson said.
The dining option earned its name from the Academy Award-winning films that used to screen throughout its hours of operation. The environment was always something students embraced, Simpson said.
“[Oscar’s] was always a bit grimy,” Simpson said. “That’s what students loved about it.”
In later years, when CAS renovated and renamed the venue Hawk Street Station with a Subway-style theme, Deutsch said the tradition of the original location remained present.
“Hawk Street Station was Hawk Street Station for three or four years and people were still calling it Oscar’s,” Deutsch said. “There was a legacy there.”
Simpson said the legacy was kept in mind while creating the new incarnation of the venue, with special efforts to “show support for a group of students who are generally underrepresented.”
Sodexo Student Sustainability Promotion’s Coordinator Dean Hottum said he began working to create the new atmosphere of Oscar’s about seven months ago. With its new sports bar-inspired sitting area, he said the goal was to create an environment for those particularly underrepresented campus groups.
“For the student groups and the athletic community, there’s really no school spirit stuff happening on campus,” Hottum said. “We wanted Oscar’s to be that center, some sort of flagship or beacon of New Paltz pride.”
Simpson said the student response to Oscar’s has been positive, aside from the same complaints heard prior to the closing of Hawk Street Station — particularly the call for healthier food options and lower, market-equivalent prices.
Deutsch said that CAS will always look to tweak and augment the dining options based on student needs. But as of now, he said Oscar’s is here to stay with similar hours until at least June, when decisions regarding the contract with Sodexo will be made.
“It’s Oscar’s,” Deutsch said. “Regardless of what we try to do to it, call it something else, we can clean it up: something about this operation works for people.”