Ohio University’s Latitude 39, a fine-dining establishment located on the first floor of Baker University Center, reopened Tuesday. The on-campus restaurant was closed at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, alongside most of the university’s other culinary services.
Since then, the majority of OU’s Culinary Services has completely reopened, including the West 82 Food Court, which is also located in Baker. Until Tuesday, Latitude 39 had delayed its reopening.
OU’s associate vice president for auxiliaries, Gwyn Scott, said in February the university planned to open the restaurant after spring break. Even with the reopening, Latitude 39 will operate a bit differently due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“In a response to our public health officials’ guidance, we reduced the seating density of all our dining venues,” Scott said in an email. “Due to the style of operation — a sit down restaurant — it made sense to delay the opening of Latitude 39.”
In comparison, Scott said West 82 was opened sooner because it acts as a quick-serve food court, and food can be easily taken on the go.
Grace Minto, a freshman studying biological sciences, said she was frustrated by Latitude 39’s temporary closure. She said she and her friends enjoy getting dressed up and going out to dinner there.
“I really like having another option on campus to use my flex points with so that I don't have to use cash or anything,” Minto said.
Students with flex meal plans can use Flex Points to pay for food at any of OU’s dining facilities.
Mackenzie Bond, a former cook for Latitude 39 and current cook at The District on West Green, said she was happy to see the restaurant reopening as well. During her short time working at Latitude 39 before it was abruptly closed due to the pandemic, she enjoyed the work environment and friendly staff, she said.
Regarding the previous staff of the restaurant, Scott said the university has plans to make sure operations run smoothly at Latitude 39.
“Until we reopen, the Latitude 39 staff have been offered work in any of our other culinary venues,” Scott said in an email. “They will have the opportunity to return to Latitude 39 or stay at the venue where they are currently working.”
Scott also said the restaurant will need to recruit more students to work at the restaurant to meet its needs.