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Janet Sodi, a student employee at Earl's Coop, prepares food for a long line of customers Sept. 12, 2023, in Athens, Ohio. Earl's Coop is a new Grab-n-Go food location in Shively Hall.

Students ‘flock’ to Earl’s Coop

When it comes to new places to eat, “The Coop” has become all the rage for students at Ohio University. 

Earl’s Coop, formerly known as the Shively Grab ‘n’ Go, has been upgraded as a fast food–style chicken restaurant. With a variety of options for either tenders or a sandwich, fries or mac and cheese, there’s something for every student at "The Coop." Earl’s Coop is the cost of only one meal swipe and an option on campus that many students have been waiting for.

While waiting in line for the first time, Kendal Akers, a freshman studying Media Arts Production, described finding out about Earl’s Coop while going to class. 

“I walked past here to go to Biddle, and I saw the line,” Akers said. “I found out it was chicken, and I was like Chicken? Chicken.” 

Being a first-timer, Akers did not have a set opinion on the chicken shack, but she does have a lot of reviews from friends that don’t seem to sway her decision to give the new dining option a shot.

“I’ve heard mixed reviews,” Akers said. “Some people say it’s good, others say it’s not as good as people say. But I don’t care right now, I’m starving!”

For more frequent Earl’s Coop–goers, Norah Gustafson, a freshman studying in the University College, and Eva Ludke, a freshman studying journalism, the chicken spot is a refreshing change from the monotonous feel of dining hall food. 

“I think (Earl’s Coop) very much does live up to the hype,” Gustafson said. “I love The Coop. Any chance I get, although the line is a little long, I love it here.”

“Last time I had a pickle-brined chicken sandwich, and it was delicious,” Ludke said. “I got the (Coop’s version) Cane’s sauce too… I thought it was like the perfect amount of flavor and tang. It really does live up to the hype. Anyone who says it doesn’t, is wrong, objectively.”

It’s easy to see that there are a variety of feelings toward Earl’s Coop, but the popularity of the new meal-swipe option is undeniable. From open to close, The Coop had a line that would stretch onto the road through East Green. 

Ludke joined the OU 2027 Snapchat page in order to stay informed. The story gained Earl’s Coop more advertising with the sheer amount of posts made to the public platform. Intrigued students quite literally flocked to Earl’s Coop for a refreshing change of both food and scenery. 

Students everywhere seem to be wondering if the Earl’s Coop line will ever die down, and again, Ludke has strong feelings that not much will stop the hungry customers, besides future weather conditions. 

“I honestly can’t see it dying down… I mean maybe when it gets cold people won’t want to wait outside, but I highly doubt that,” she said. 

To offer perspective, vegetarian Eden Truax, a freshman studying mathematics, gave insight into the plant-based option that Earl’s Coop offers. Its veggie nuggets are a choice on the menu that not many students know about, but the inclusion of people with dietary restrictions is important to make the meal-swipe option available to everyone. Not only is inclusivity important, but Truax gave her opinion on the actual taste of their alternative. 

“I mean I think it’d be pretty embarrassing if you couldn’t do vegan or vegetarian chicken well,” she said. “But, it’s good! It was really dry the first time I had it, but it’s been better recently.”

The inclusivity that Earl’s Coop has in regard to food options is another reason why the line continues to be out the door. 

Lily Chongswatdi, a freshman studying music, was surprised that the meal was the price of one meal swipe. Her appreciation for The Coop is clear in her confidence that every student should come and check it out. 

“Oh yeah it’s worth a meal swipe,” she said. “I was shocked we could get this with a meal swipe.”

For students at OU, it seems that Earl’s Coop has become a successful hit for a new meal-swipe experience. 


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