As students returned to campus this fall, a new dining hall – with lines of students to get in – opened in the Heritage Community on North Campus.
“I wasn’t really complaining at all. It’s worth the wait,” said Remy Andersen, a senior English major.
The Yahentamitsi (Yah-hen-tuh-meet-c) dining hall is named for the term “a place to eat” in the Piscataway peoples’ language, according to a Maryland Today article last November. The new dining hall goes along with the other community buildings’ names which recognize important diversity advancements made at UMD.
The 60,000 sq. foot dining hall has 11 food counters and offers over a thousand seats, according to the UMD Dining Services. The facility also offers all-day breakfast service, unlike other dining halls on campus.
Bart Hipple, assistant director of Dining Services for marketing and communications, said that the long lines outside the dining hall are not unique to this year.
“For years at The Diner in Ellicott [Community], there would be lines at the beginning of the semester. The lines at Yahentamitsi were typically longer than they were at The Diner at the beginning of the semester,” Hipple said.
But according to Hipple, who has worked with Dining Services for 32 years, this was not seen in recent years due to COVID. He believes the lines will naturally pan out as students adjust their schedules and more efficiency inside by dining staff is achieved.
Hipple explained that the Yahentamitsi’s creation was due to a combination of needs Residential Life building two new residence halls (Pyon-Chen and Johnson-Whittle) thus increasing student population, the overuse of the nearly 50 year old The Diner in the Ellicott Community and different demands from students in terms of dining needs.
“We needed something different: something more modern, something with different equipment, different facilities and different styles of serving where we could offer different menus and different flavors and different choices to students,” Hipple said.
Andersen, who lives in South Campus Commons, raved that “the Y” dining hall offers more food options, more seating, higher quality food and a very modern building.
“The first time I tried it, I was blown away. I was absolutely amazed,” said Andersen. “I remember the food at The Diner. I honestly didn’t think the food was that amazing; it was decent. I knew there was room for improvement, and they definitely improved with this new dining hall.”
Andersen did have one critique though: Yahentamitsi only offers one dish return area.
“I know South Campus [Dining] has a couple of areas… Because that dining hall [Yahentamitsi] is so big, I feel that it’s essential,” Andersen stated.
Jack Susanin, a sophomore journalism major, lives in Hagerstown this year and frequents the Yahentamitsi. He has had an overall positive experience.
While it is a larger space and more seating, he noted the dining hall still gets very crowded – usually around 1 p.m., leaving it difficult for him to even find a place to sit.
“That’s honestly in my opinion when The 251 gets slept on,” Susanin said. “Especially when there’s crowds at the new dining hall, it at times gets frustrating when you can’t find a table or there’s not enough food out and you have to wait.”
His favorite part of Yahentamitsi is the omelet station that allows him to customize his breakfast.
Overall, Susanin shared that the Yahentamitsi is doing well and that he doesn’t think the crowds can particularly be controlled.
“There’s nothing they can do about it [the crowds]. I think it will calm down over time,” Susanin shared.