For Elias Aceves ’23 and Dana Chiueh ’23, the return of Late Night dining at Lakeside was a special occasion.
The pair arrived in style: Aceves wore a suit and tie, while Chiueh donned an indigo floor-length dress. They dubbed Monday night’s reopening, a celebration soundtracked by top 40 hits, “Lakeside Prom.”
For the first time since the start of the pandemic, students can visit Late Night at Lakeside Dining Sunday through Thursday from 9:30 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. and enjoy chop cheese sandwiches, loaded nacho fries, Nutella banana milkshakes and more.
The newly expanded hours at Lakeside come after months of limited late-night dining operations caused by pandemic-related Residential and Dining Enterprises (R&DE) staffing shortages. Lakeside now joins The Axe & Palm (TAP) and EVGR Pub as available nighttime spots that accept meal plan dollars.
“R&DE recognizes that late-night dining options are important for students, and we are happy to restart programs as the public health environment and R&DE Stanford Dining staffing have improved,” wrote R&DE spokesperson Jocelyn Breeland.
On Monday, the kitchen came to life, and murmurs — “nature is healing,” and “the vibes are funny” — filled the serving area. Students waiting in line applauded as the first orders were filled.
Newcomers to Late Night were excited to finally get a taste of the experience.
“As a sophomore, we never had Late Night, so it’s really exciting to see this finally come back after COVID,” said Khaled Khan ’24. “I heard from upperclassmen that it was really good. I’ve been missing out.”
Those returning to Late Night reminisced about the memories they had built over past quarters. For Aceves and Chiueh, Late Night was “foundational” to frosh year. The two recalled making the trek from Sally Ride House to Lakeside Dining with their friends every night, where they would regularly study and hang out until 2 a.m.
“Good memories of the free guacamole,” Chiueh said.
“And the sour cream!” Aceves added.
One of Chiueh’s favorite memories is listening to the student DJ regulars practicing late into the night.
“There were student DJs that would DJ to an empty hall,” Chiueh said. “There would be a few people waiting for their food in the main dining hall and then a DJ just going at it.”
Lakeside staff invited student DJ Jason Ah Chuen ’22 to play at the reopening, where he blasted remixes of “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus and “Body” by Megan Thee Stallion to a jam-packed dining hall. Students grooved and shimmied as they waited in long lines for chicken quesadillas.
“There’s really good vibes at Late Night,” Ah Chuen said. “I feel like people are usually a bit stressed, so music can help put them in a better mood.”
Beyond nostalgic memories and funky remixes, most students were excited about the increased availability of late-night food on campus. Khan said he looks forward to “having options at night other than Jack in the Box and $40 DoorDash fees.”
Still, students expressed frustrations with some of Late Night’s limitations, particularly its lack of healthier options.
“Late Night is 99% of the reason I drew into the neighborhood [R], but I’m nervous because there are virtually no healthy options,” said Michelle Bao ’22. “I have struggled with my weight for all my life and especially in college, so the availability of empty calories is not ideal.”
Bao listed cut fruit as a potential option for the Late Night menu: “It would be both feasible and palatable,” she said.
Students also voiced concerns about their inability to purchase the few vegan options listed on the Late Night menu. Jason Chen ’24 said he attempted to purchase the “Vegan Shiitake Udon Noodle Bowl,” only to discover that the item did not qualify for meal plan dollars.
Nevertheless, Late Night remains a beloved institution.
R&DE will continue to follow public health guidance and adhere to Stanford’s CleanDining protocols, according to Breeland. Lakeside, Arrillaga Family Dining Commons and Wilbur Dining will be open during spring break “to support students who will be on campus,” Breeland added.
Looking forward, Breeland stressed the importance of student input in improving Late Night.
“We invite students to provide feedback on what menu items or fun events they would like to see in the future,” she wrote.