The Old Ridgeway Buffet

Reed Wilson

Introduction

Located just an hour and a half North of Seattle is the small town called Bellingham. In this small town resides Western Washington University, one of the six public Universities in the state of Washington. Nestled on a hilltop looking over the main campus of Western Washington University, surrounded by trees and red brick buildings is the Ridgeway Dining Hall. Built in 1965, the Ridgeway Dining Hall was made to give students living on “the Ridge” — a cluster of dorms located on the South side of campus — a convenient place to eat food instead of making them go all the way down to the Viking Commons. The Viking Commons is the main dining hall on campus which is located on the North side of campus.

Outside view of the Ridgeway Commons which houses the Ridgeway Dining Hall

So, What’s the Scoop?

When going to the Ridgeway Dining Hall, it is exactly like going and eating at the Old Country Buffet, a chain of restaurants located across the United States that serves food buffet style. Right after walking up the stairs to get inside, you will pay for your meal which allows you to eat as much as you want. You will be consumed by the loud buzz of people eating while workers are doing different tasks, accompanied by a decently chosen playlist of music in the background.

As a first year student living on “the Ridge”, I am looking for the most convenient place to eat that also serves good food. This place is almost always The Ridgeway Dining Hall. I live in the dorm Ridgeway Alpha, located right across the street from this dining hall. All I have to do to get to this dining hall is to walk across a road and up a flight of stairs. It takes me less then three minutes to get there. I eat at least two meals every day here. Although the Ridgeway Dining Hall is the closest place for me to eat, there are many aspects about this dining hall that may hinder its convenience to anyone that eats there.

Just like when anyone goes to the Old Country Buffet, when I go to the Ridgeway Dining Hall, I expect there to be hot food I can get at any time of the day. Sadly, this is not the case. Between the hours of 1:30 to 5:00 pm, there is no hot food being served. The Old Country Buffet serves hot food from the second they open at 11am to closing time at 8:30pm. This time of not serving hot food at the Ridgeway Dining Hall is called “Light Lunch”. The only meals anyone can get here during this time are sandwiches, fruit, and salad. This is the time when there is the lowest amount of people eating in the Ridgeway Dining Hall. I get out of my last class of the day at 3:50pm. This means that I either have to wait about an hour to eat dinner there when I’m starving, or go to light lunch and have something cold. There have been multiple times when I didn’t know the Ridgeway Dining Hall’s food serving schedule and I have gone there, excited to have hot food, only to find out that it is too late. There is no way out because I have already swiped my WWU student ID, taking away one of my meals and now I’m unable to get that meal back even though I don’t want anything that they are serving.

The salad and fruit bar located inside the Ridgeway Dining Hall

For me, the Ridgeway Dining Hall and the Old Country Buffet serve all types of food that I’m able to eat. However, at the Ridgeway Dining Hall, it is very hard for people with dietary restrictions such as vegetarians or especially vegans to find good, filling food. Throughout the day, there are only a couple food options for people with dietary restrictions to choose from. These options include: fruit, salad, some type of soup, rice and depending on the day, they might be able to have the main entrée. I often hear two of my vegan friends complain about the minuscule options the Ridgeway Dining Hall has to offer and the low quality taste of the food which they can eat.

Like anyone who eats at the Old Country Buffet, I’m not expecting to eat the greatest meal I have ever tasted while eating at the Ridgeway Dining Hall. I am content with eating almost anything. There have been many times where my friends and I consider walking all the way to the Viking Commons, just to find something better to eat than that at the Ridgeway Dining Hall. From my experience of going to the Viking Commons on multiple occasions, I know that the food there tastes so much better and there are more options than that of the Ridgeway Dining Hall. Wouldn’t you rather travel a little further to a buffet that has better food compared to a different, equally priced buffet that has worse food?


Conclusion

Similar to the accessibility for some people to eat at the Old Country Buffet, the Ridgeway Dining Hall is very convenient for me to eat at. If you are like me, someone that has no dietary restrictions and is fine with eating practically anything, then this could be the right place for you. However, if you eat at times that are different then that of the dining hall’s schedule, have dietary restrictions, or are picky with food, then this is not the place for you to eat. There are dining halls everywhere, usually on all college campuses. So if you are not able to get to this one, you can go to the closest college dining hall to you and it will most likely be the same buffet-style, mildly disappointing experience.