Studio ’34, a self-service cafe in Butler College, has yet to reopen due to challenges caused by staffing shortages. Popular among students for its late-night meal options, the cafe was slated to resume operations in the fall 2021 semester but now faces an uncertain future. The cafe has been closed since the fall of 2020.
“Campus Dining, like many hospitality organizations, is currently experiencing a significant labor shortage. We are down approximately 25 staff members and have only a fraction of our normal student workforce,” Cristian Vasquez, Director of Retail and Catering, wrote in an email to The Daily Princetonian.
“Therefore, we have already had to curtail some of our retail operations on campus and are unlikely to be able to divert resources, particularly during the late-night hours, to be able to open Studio ’34, at least in the near term,” he added.
The temporary closure reflects broader trends of understaffed dining halls across campus since students returned to campus in the fall. Currently, there are 23 job openings within Campus Dining listed on the University’s Human Resources Website. Five of these were posted in the last seven days.
Studio ’34 is located in the basement of 1967 Hall in Butler College. Before the pandemic’s outbreak, its food offerings included “pizza, hot dogs, sandwiches, sushi, coffee, and other snacks and sundries” with both indoor and outdoor seating options. Students frequented the cafe both for the food options and for the community it created.
“Living down-campus, it was definitely a convenient spot given that there are few late-night snack options,” Isabelle Nimick ’22 wrote in an email to the ‘Prince.’ “Studio ’34 mimicked the options of the C-Store in Frist but offered warm meals like chicken tenders and pizza.”
Other late-night snack options for students include the University Store, which operates until 2 a.m. throughout the week, the Wawa, open twenty-four hours a day, and the Frist Food Gallery, open from 11 p.m. until 3 a.m on Saturday nights.
Gavin Cotter ’23, a residential college advisor in Butler College, also recalled that Studio ’34 was a “convenient” dining option and Oliver Whang ’22, a Butlerite going on four years, said that he frequented the cafe for pizzas when working late.
According to Nimick, Studio ’34 played an important role in popularizing Butler’s communal areas. But she said that the pandemic has rendered the space “desolate now that warm food and snacks are no longer available.”
Jackie Wang ’25 said in an interview with the ‘Prince’ that Studio ’34 “seems like an easy meal option for students living in residential colleges like Butler and Whitman.”
“I hope they are able to reopen soon,” she added.
Other cafes run by Campus Dining across the University, including the Frist Food Gallery, EQuad Cafe, and Witherspoon’s, resumed operations in the fall 2021 semester as scheduled.
Campus dining will continue to assess when Studio ’34 can be reopened.
“The plan is to reevaluate the operation for the fall semester, and see where we might have opportunities to reopen Studio ’34 and some of the other locations that are currently closed,” Vasquez wrote.
Tara Agarwal is a news staff writer for the ‘Prince.’ She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.