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A Newcomer on South Campus

Choolaah+Indian+BBQ+pictured+in+The+Court+at+Donahue+Dining+Hall.%0A
Courtesy of Sophie Latessa
Choolaah Indian BBQ pictured in The Court at Donahue Dining Hall.

The dining halls on Villanova’s campus are well-known to every student. Many students visit one or the other multiple times a day, whether seeking a quick meal to go or an hours-long debrief with friends over dinner. 

The most known, and arguably the most beloved, dining hall at Villanova is undoubtedly the Court at Donahue (colloquially known as “Spit”). Positioned in the center of South Campus, Donahue is home base for a majority of the freshman class every year. It’s where group dinners are held, friendships are formed and “late night” saves lives. 

The dining halls are not unfamiliar with change happening throughout this school year. Both Donahue and Dougherty have gotten brand-new ice cream machines in recent months, which have been received with much enthusiasm by students. 

However, an even larger change occurred during Winter Break. Upon returning for Spring Semester, students were shocked to find a new food station opening at Donahue. It is called Choolaah, which is a local Indian restaurant chain specializing in North Indian cuisine. It has multiple locations around Pennsylvania and Ohio, the closest one to Villanova being in the mall in King of Prussia. 

 Its website champions a mission centered around community, reminiscing on fresh bread from communal ovens made for sharing. It prides itself on having a menu fit for everyone, with options for vegan and vegetarian diners, as well as an established sensitivity for people who are wary of spice. 

The menu on its website is expansive, featuring bowls, wraps, street food and more. The menu offered in Donahue is significantly smaller, with only two protein and sauce options served over rice. Nonetheless, Choolaah was received warmly by the Villanova community.

 As previously acknowledged, this change was largely a surprise to many students upon their return, but has been welcomed as a much needed addition to the regular dining options available across campus. Many frequent Spit diners, like freshman Emma McGuire, are happy with the new options, but are wary about its future appeal. 

“[Choolaah] is good, it’s the best chicken on campus, hands down,” McGuire said.  “The sauces are great, too, but it’s the same thing every day. I love it right now, but I could imagine it getting old.” 

This lack of variety could contribute to a decline in interest around Choolaah’s station as students become more familiarized with its presence. With other stations in Donahue cycling through very different offerings every week, Choolaah may begin to pale in comparison. 

Choolaah may have filled a gap in Donahue momentarily by providing the excitement of something new, but as the grand-opening rush wears off, it seems more lackluster than anything else. 

Freshman Audrey Finneli echoed this sentiment. 

“I like it, but since they always have the same things,” Finneli said. “I think I’ll get tired of it.”

Others, while appreciative of the impulse to provide dining hall variety, believe dining services could be improved by continually changing menu options.

“I think it would be better if they brought in a new place every other month or so,” freshman Meagan Clancy said. 

Viable or not, this proposal is enticing. It allows students to have more options that they are excited about without giving them time to get too tired of it. All in all, Choolaah has been a fascinating installment to return to for this new semester, and even despite the concerns students may have for the future, many are thoroughly enjoying it right now.

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