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Students returning to Brown from their summer vacations encountered change in a traditional bastion of stability and regularity: the Sharpe Refectory.

The modifications are immediately visible to anyone walking into the Ratty. The salad bar has moved to a different location, a new station for soup and panini has been set up in its former space, and part of the east seating alcove — better known to many students as "the back cave" — has been transformed into a lounge, complete with couches and a new flat-screen television. In addition, the stations for spices and sauces, cereal and for toast  and bagels have all moved to new locations.

While many Brown students were surprised by the Ratty's makeover, they seem to be taking it in stride.

"I think it's cute," said Stephanie Paul '11. Many other students called the changes "convenient" or simply "good."

Many of the changes stemmed from a concern with past "congestion," particularly around the Grill line, wrote Ann Hoffman, director of administration of Dining Services, in an e-mail to The Herald.

Hoffman wrote that the new station for the panini grills should mean "decreased wait time" in the Grill line, where the panini presses used to be located.

"The soup is also served in this station, along with fresh baked breads and rolls, which also frees up congestion on the deli line," she wrote. "This added convenience seems to be working so far and has received a positive response from students."

"The soup bar is pretty cool," said Aviva Grossman '10, "and the new multi-grain bread is really good."

Hoffman wrote that spices and sauces have been moved to a new "Creation Station" outside the Tastes of the World line. This move creates "more cohesion with what we serve on the line and what we offer in the kiosk," she wrote. "Now a customer can choose their food options on the line and come out to offer the appropriate accompaniments. It should be faster and more convenient for them."

As for the lounge in the east alcove, Hoffman wrote in her e-mail that it was "added as a relaxing seating option for the students." Four sofas and five higher, cafe-style tables have transformed the space.

Hoffman wrote that the area "has been well received."

"It lends a perception of spaciousness," said Erick Sam '10 of the new lounge's arrangement.

Not all students were enthusiastic about the lounge, however. Several said they thought it unnecessarily reduced the space available for regular seating.

Aadon Penny '11 called the lounge "redundant."

"Removing the tables from that side really reduces the area where people sit," he said.

But, for the most part, students who spoke with The Herald gave the new layout positive reviews.

"I like the changes," said Alex Svoronos '10. "They make the Ratty more classy."



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