Yes, that’s right. I wasn’t sure people would believe me (and I couldn’t really believe it myself when, for once, I read the entirety of an email from my resident director … that tidbit was slipped in in about size-8 font halfway through, meaning I’m probably one of three people who saw it) so here’s some proof:
Guess what's open? pic.twitter.com/OI9k6vu9Ui
— Alec Greaney (@AlecGreaney) April 18, 2016
Honestly, I’m a lot more excited about this than I ever thought I would be about a ball of meat in a cup. Sure, they still pale in comparison to the homemade meatballs my grandmother makes, and sure, I’ve complained more than anyone about how expensive they are, but this is a full two years of hype in the making. In the roughly 17 months I’ve spent on this campus in the past two years, seven of which have been on Lower Campus, I have never once seen this shack open. Not a single time.
I thought I might just have really poor timing or be really unobservant, so I asked a bunch of my friends from all grade levels. Here are my results in their entirety:
- Freshman #1: “Nope”
- Freshman #2: “No? What lol”
- Freshman #3: “Nooooo I haven’t it confuses me so much … Why does it exist”
- Freshman #4: “No … And I’m down there quite often”
- Sophomore #1: “Ok I think I saw it once on accepted eagles day when I was visiting senior year … And I was like oh that’s cool! … They should make it a coffee or smoothie stand”
- Sophomore #2: “I’ve never seen it open”
- Sophomore #3: “This past September?”
- Sophomore #4: “Nope!”
- Sophomore #5: “Never … Is it open?”
- Sophomore #6: “No never … Only on marathon monday I think”
- Sophomore #7: “nope never”
- Junior #1: “Maybe last marathon Monday? Like foreeeever ago”
- Junior #2: “Haha ya I feel like last time I saw it open was this summer”
- Junior #3: “Maybe September? Maybe last spring?”
- Junior #4: “Hahahahahaha why … Like maybe freshman year when it was beans creams and dreams … And that was one time”
- Senior #1: “Spring of my sophomore year, maybe”
- Senior #2: “God, for sure my sophomore year marathon Monday … But I don’t actually remember after that”
- Senior #3: “Like never hahaha … I think marathon Monday of my sophomore year”
- Senior #4: “hi wow that’s random hahaha I can’t recall specifically myself but my friend just said she thought she saw it open on Friday … and it’s typically open on marathon monday haha”
It might not have been the most legitimate study, but I think it’s enough to make a few observations.
Officially 0 people who responded to me used a single period when texting. I love using proper grammar as much as anyone, but if you’re on the pro-period side, you should probably give up. You lost. If you have multiple sentences to get out, send multiple messages. Simple as that. Question marks and exclamation points, though, are still very much in.
No one agrees on the last time the shack was open in the past two years. I think it’s a pretty safe bet to assume that it was open two Marathon Mondays ago—that would be 2014, the spring before I got here. With all four seniors saying the same thing, I feel good marking that one down in pen.
But since then, we have a pretty big range: anytime from last spring to this past Friday. My best guess from looking at this and using some basic intuition is the last time it was open was actually in September. I really don’t remember that at all myself, but with two different people specifically saying “September,” I’ll have to trust it.
I have my doubts about last Marathon Monday, which stayed under 40 degrees and rained almost all morning. It was basically a miserable day to be standing outside wearing a Mile 21 tank and shorts, but I did it. I can’t imagine anyone choosing to get a meatball outside rather than getting literally anything else inside where it was dry and warm, but if soggy meatballs are your thing, that must have been nirvana. The Boston Globe also ran a story in March 2015 talking about the stand opening on April 20—Marathon Monday last year—so that seems like another good bet after all.
As for last Friday, I’m guessing there were just people in there cleaning it out to get it ready for today, but maybe they gave it a full test run.
I am just as uninitiated as the freshmen I know. Still, even though none of them have seen it open, none of them were confused by my question—I originally thought the one person that said “No? What lol” might not have known the shack existed, but instead they were just confused / annoyed? about why I was bothering them to ask about it. The fact that everyone knows about it doesn’t surprise me, since it’s pretty conspicuous in the middle of campus, but it’s interesting to note. Also, almost everyone was really quick to answer my question without asking why first, which I genuinely appreciate.
Marathon Monday is the big day. I guess this also makes sense, since it’s late enough in the semester to normally be warm while also having a near-endless supply of drunk college students with no real purpose looking for something cool to eat. Then again, I’m a little surprised it wasn’t open, say, yesterday, which got up to the low 60s and was an Admitted Eagle Day. It has been open before on those days in the past, as sophomore #1 attested, and it seems like a cool draw for prospective students and parents walking around campus.
The coffee / smoothie stand idea is genius. I say that in part because I’ve had the same idea myself, but I never thought about it very seriously and was pretty excited to hear someone else say the same thing. The choice of having meatballs be the big thing that stands out on campus is kind of an odd one. I’m not against meatballs by any means, but I can tell you for a fact that if they had coffee and some bakery goods, I would grab a muffin there every day. Think about how much more convenient it would be for people coming from Walsh, Vandy, and Stayer, and even 90 and 66. I think it’d do great. Also I love smoothies, which is mostly beside the point, but still relevant enough to mention.
Beans, Creams, & Dreams. I guess this is the answer to the coffee stand proposal—it’s already been done. I’m pretty surprised no one else, especially the seniors, included it in their responses, but hey, it existed. I have to imagine it wasn’t that successful or it wouldn’t have changed, you never know.
That article I just linked to actually answers a lot of questions about the history of how a meatball shack came to exist at BC, but I still contacted BC Dining to get some updated info. Paul Boissonneau, the production manager of Lower Live, the Loft, and the Shack (<– !) at Corcoran Commons, who responded to my email on Saturday, said that it was last open in October 2015, and that “It closes when the weather turns cold and the water & electric must be turned off to prevent freezing.”
This reason makes perfect sense, even if it’s kind of a bummer. I’d feel bad for anyone that would have to work in there, since I doubt it has any heat. I do have some trouble understanding how none of the people I asked said they noticed it open in October and just two in September, but again, it was probably only open for a few hours at lunch a couple days. With such a small sample size, I can believe that we all might have missed it.
As for not being open more often, Boissonneau noted the low volume during the summer months—he said the shack is normally open May through October, depending on the weather—and few options on the menu—which today include burgers, hot dogs, and Italian sausages, in addition to the meatballs—make it a hard thing to operate on its own.
So my own bottom line: I love that it’s open, but I’m not giving up on the coffee idea. I think it would work, at least based off the amount of cups filling the trash in lecture halls by 11 a.m. Then again, there really is nothing like having a meatball stand randomly thrown in the middle of campus. What other school has that? Well, probably at least a few, considering Meatball Obsession is a company based in New York that has a “Colleges and Universities” page on its website. But still, to a high school student touring, that could be cool, I guess.
Even the fact that it’s open this rarely gets people pretty excited. One freshman I talked to before she knew it was opening today said she just hoped to go before she graduated. I doubt I would have gotten one today if it were open more often, but here I am. Way to create some demand, BC Dining. Long live (the mystery of) the shack.
Note: The shack is scheduled to remain open until 3 p.m. today. Don’t be late—who knows when you’ll see it open again.
Featured Image by Emily Fahey / Heights Senior Staff