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Students walk in and out of Nelson Dining Hall on South Green, Sept. 6, 2023, in Athens, Ohio.

Earl's Coop is OU's newest dining hall

On the first day of classes, Aug. 28, a line of hungry underclassmen formed outside of Ohio University's newest dining option, Earl’s Coop, located at the corner of Shively Hall on East Green. 

Before the creation of Earl’s Coop, Shively Hall was previously used for COVID-19 testing, but because the university is no longer mandating students to test or report symptoms, the testing location dissolved. 

However, before Shively Hall was a COVID-19 testing location, it also was a dining hall, Shively Court. Shively Court closed in the spring of 2020 due to the low enrollment forecast for the Fall 2021 Semester, according to a previous Post report. 

The closing of Shively Court left many students upset because it was taking away another dining hall option on campus. 

“I really liked Shively as a freshman, and I think it was a really good option for East Green students,” Lauren Slanker, a first-year graduate student studying Counselor Education, said.

Despite rumors of Shively Court being up and running, Gwyn Scott, associate vice president for auxiliaries, said she does not anticipate the dining hall opening this fall.

Earl’s Coop is a Grab-N-Go dining option that serves fresh chicken strips with signature sauces, chicken sandwiches, and various sides, including macaroni and cheese, waffle fries, fruit and cookies. The dining court also includes vegetarian wing options.

Students can use traditional or flex meal plans and they can pick out any sort of variation for a main dish and a side dish option. One meal swipe is equivalent to one meal – a main dish and a side dish. Those without meal plans can also use Bobcat Cash or a credit/debit card to purchase the food; an average meal costs $15.  

The new dining court is open Monday through Thursday from noon to 10 p.m., Fridays from noon to 4 p.m. and closed on the weekends. 

Earl’s Coop is the third traditional meal-plan option, including Nelson Court, and The District on West Green. Smooth Moves, which is located in Boyd Market, also accepts traditional and flex meal plans for a smoothie combo.

There will be a grand opening held on Wednesday, Sept. 20 at noon, with a ribbon-cutting event, giveaways and Earl’s Coop samples, according to a university news statement.

Assistant Director for Residence Dining Autumn Ryder said since the opening of Earl’s Coop, she has received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback. 

“Students are loving the concept, which we thought that they were going to like it but they’re liking it more than we thought they would,” Ryder said.

Alex Tamplin, a freshman studying aviation, said Earl’s Coop is the best food on campus. 

“It’s pretty close to Cane’s,” Tamplin said. “Nelson is nothing compared to this.”

Ryder said there was an inspiration behind Earl’s Coop to make it a similar option to other fast-food chain restaurants. 

“When we describe to people what Earl’s (Coop) is, we kind of say it's a mix between Cane’s and Chick-fil-A, just the (OU) version,” Ryder said. “We’ve got a couple of different sauces on there that we purposely tried to – not mimic it – but make it similar.”

Dale Lindsey, general manager of Earl’s Coop and Shivley Grab ‘n’ Go, said business has been a lot busier than he anticipated it would be, but high business has left long lines leading outside the door of Earl’s Coop and circling around Shively Hall outside.

“We try to get people in and out as quick as we can,” Ryder said. “We’ve done some time studies that look at how quick people can go through. We tweaked some things; we changed some things.”

Ryder said there will be an awning installed for students waiting in line outside. The awning was previously used for the Shively Grab ‘n’ Go, and she hopes it will be coming in within the next month. Ryder said the awning will also help during winter months, too.

“We will continue to monitor students' needs and assure we align service hours and operations to meet those needs,” Scott wrote in an email.

Slanker said that having an additional dining meal option is crucial due to the rising number of enrollments. 

“It’s actually super imperative to have that third dining option because of the amount of students we have now,” Slanker said. “And with my experience going to Nelson in the past couple of years, it’s just been too many people in one place.”


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