The little cart, with its signature red and yellow umbrella overhead, was a staple. For a few bucks, a kid could feast on a couple hot dogs, a bag of chips and a can of ice cold Tahitian Treat. Polish boys were popular, and Demetrius had all the fixings for franks.
Like the hot dog cart, countless other lunchtime spots have come and gone. In a bygone era, students wandered eastward to the West Side Market, or westward to the Hot Dog Inn. Other popular spots included Athens bakery, now the site of Boaz Café, or Ma’s on Lorain. The student handbook dictates that the only off-campus locations students can grab food at during the school day are Wendy’s and Phoenix. But the crackerjack campus dining team has found ways to flip the script.
Almost weekly, staff from Ohio City Burrito set up shop at the main serving line. On Fridays, a team from Project Sushi creates custom sushi rolls on campus. Once in a while, Picadilly Creamery doles out scoops of ice cream. In recent years, Student Senate scheduled food trucks to park next to campus during lunch periods. And, outside of school hours, a majority of the local fast-casual restaurants will accept student IDs as a form of payment.
“It was part of what makes Ignatius unique,” says John Geffert ’94. “Being a part of the surrounding community and being given the responsibility to venture (even if just a few) steps off campus.”
Each of the 18,000 alumni of this school has his own stories and memories; indeed, they are too numerous to tell in one article. But to step back and hear the stories from those of a different era is fascinating.
Theresa’s Pizza? Papa John’s? Fresh off the serving line in the caf? Whichever slice you associate with your high school days says a lot about the time that an alum was in school. And yet, the menu aside, there are some ingredients to the lunchtime experience that remain unchanged.
The lunch table, often enough, featured guys students didn’t necessarily have class with. It had guys from outside their extracurricular circles. As Kopcso put it, “Honestly, graduating from Saint Ignatius prior to text messaging on cell phones and in the pre-social media era, most social information traveled here in the student center.”
The veteran campus dining staff serves up tacos, burgers, salads--and most importantly, smiles.
Behind the scenes, there were always people making sure lunch was one of the highlights of the day.
“I tell other people, ‘Cook like you’re cooking for your family,’” Burgess says. “We have a lot of ladies that are really good friends with the boys, just really close to the boys… The relationships that we form with these boys, we’re their second moms. They can come in here and they can talk with us. It’s just amazing.”
And that’s the secret sauce—care, camaraderie, and some damn good cooking—that all makes lunchtime at Saint Ignatius an essential part of the student experience. And, as the moral of the chicken patty story shows, sometimes there is never any need for a recipe change.
This one is already perfect.