The independent news organization of Duke University

'Cleaner and brighter now': Thoughts on the Pitchfork's renovation, expansion

Just in time for the new semester, Pitchfork’s opened its doors with a new look. 

For the Spring semester, the restaurant opened up a new addition to fit more people. The glass structure encasing a nearby terrace now offers 70 additional seats for people dining at the restaurant.

Located on floor zero of McClendon Tower in Keohane Quad, the 24/7 restaurant is more notable as a spot for late-night dining after a night out than an all-day social space. However, with the spring semester renovation and a bright new seating area, the restaurant may have become more inviting for all kinds of students, both those seeking a quiet place to study and those on the hunt for a meal.

The additions are the second part of a large-scale renovation at Pitchfork’s. Last summer, the eatery upgraded its interior, expanded its kitchen and added a second cash register.

“We were able to increase the food preparation space over the summer, and the dining and seating area for the start of spring semester,” wrote Director of Project Management Paul Manning in an email.

The driving impetus to renovate the restaurant came in response to the opening of Hollows Quad on West Campus at the beginning of the fall 2019 semester. The new dorm now houses an influx of 700 students that came to West with the closing of Central Campus after the 2018-19 academic year.

“We recognized the need for a nearby, enlarged, 24/7 dining facility,” Manning wrote.


Aaron Zhao


For senior Manish Kumar, Pitchfork’s used to be solely a late-night joint. With the new space, his perception has changed. 

“It has become a place where you can come and actually sit down to study,” he said. He usually wouldn’t have studied at the restaurant in the last semester, “but it’s cleaner and brighter now.”

Additional “back-of-house capacity” was annexed to allow Pitchfork’s to handle more customers more efficiently, wrote Robert Coffey, executive director of dining services, in an email. And instead of calling out names, the restaurant now hands out server pagers to its customers to align with its new professional appearance.

While most students embraced the restaurant’s new look with expanded seating options and social spaces, some complain they don’t quite feel at home anymore at the new Pitchfork’s.

“I think the place is not ready for the amount of students it receives. I used to go anytime of the day and just get food quickly and now I have to keep waiting and waiting—more than it would be acceptable,” senior Lucia Mees said.

In response, she now prefers going to other venues. 

“If I’m going out, I’m probably just going to end up there but if I have a choice during the day, I don’t think it’s worth it,” she said.  

Other students agree there is room for improvement regarding how quickly the restaurant serves food.

“The enlargement might not necessarily increase the speed of service,” senior Nicolas Cort said. 

On a different note, “it makes it a more welcoming environment for students because there is more space, there is more capacity and it’s a place where people can go and interact in larger groups now,” he added. “Hopefully it’ll become another focal point on campus that we can all enjoy and share.”

In addition to new spaces in the dining area, food trucks will continue to rotate on a nightly basis Monday through Thursday to serve the residential communities in the area, according to Coffey.  

A grand opening for Pitchfork's is planned for Jan. 29.

Comments