The seemingly unending construction on the old Panda Express location on BC Plaza is finally coming to a close. Seven months after Panda Express closed its doors, the tunnel to Duke Kunshan University being built in its place is nearly finished.
After being a staple of dining for Duke students who loved underseasoned chicken for 15 years, Panda Express served its last rice bowl last May, leaving a gaping hole that has been under constant renovation ever since. But Bob Lattè, Executive Director of Duke Dining, confirmed in an exclusive conversation with Monday Monday that the long-awaited 11,965-kilometer tunnel that cuts through the core of the Earth to connect Duke University with its liberal arts counterpart in Kunshan, China would be completed by the next centennial.
“We didn’t want Duke students to settle for budget-friendly fast food. Now we can import Panda Express straight from the motherland, rivaling the culinary authenticity of Tandoor and Il Forno,” Lattè said.
Duke Dining had originally shared plans to give the space to It’s Thyme, the allergen-free dining facility pioneering a new type of food (chips in bowls). Plans to give Thyme a new space were scrapped after the concept was deemed “too radical” for the taste buds of Duke students.
“We faced major construction delays. Three months into digging we unexpectedly discovered a buried bunker filled with discarded almond milk cartons and Nutella jars from Cafe,” reported Lattè.
Nuh T’case, head of International Relations at Duke Dining, confirmed that with the completion of the tunnel, the entire city of Kunshan would be subsumed into West Campus policies and would therefore be classified as nut-free.
“We are the first dining program in the country to connect two continents and ban peanuts in both. That’s the Duke Difference that makes us an award-winning dining program,” T’case said. T’case further confirmed that Duke Dining was in active talks with the Kunshan City government to plan how they could export Durham’s gentrification to Kunshan.
The tunnel to DKU will sport an advanced shuttle called “the Pipe” that will be operated by the trusted hands of Duke Parking and Transportation. The schedule released states that the shuttle will stop running between the hours of midnight and 9 a.m. in both time zones, with a footnote that reads, “Good luck figuring that one out.” Duke Vans will not service DKU.
“The Pipe will also serve as a convenient place for us to dispose of our ‘compost,’” said Lattè with a wink.
The entrance to DKU at the other end of the Pipe will have three other new bowl places, including one that will have acai bowls for just $15 each. They will not be put on the Duke Mobile Order app due to concerns about the Chinese government collecting sensitive quesadilla-related data.
DKU students here on their campus break will be freed from East House, sent back to China and expected to commute daily via the Pipe. In turn, East House and its original 1911 hardwood flooring will finally be allowed to be decomposed and absorbed by the cockroaches of East Campus.
“Yeah, that’s cool or whatever,” said Stefan Bing, a sophomore, when asked about his opinion on the change. “But I really just want a sandwich shop on campus.” Too bad, Stefan. Another bowl place for you.
Monday Monday is coping with finals by embracing a new allergen-free, nut-free, gluten-free, meatless and locally sourced diet and only drinking organic free-range water.
Get The Chronicle straight to your inbox
Signup for our weekly newsletter. Cancel at any time.