Cornell University is famous for its multiple eateries across campus. With so many choices, it can be hard for new students to visit all of the dining halls and restaurants available to them, especially when convenience encourages students to visit the same locations over and over again. In an effort to properly paint social life at Cornell, Mikey and I will be travelling to some of our favorite locations to comment on their food options and to encourage you to branch out to new restaurant locations on campus.
Today’s post centers on one of our more frequent dining spots on Central Campus: The Big Red Barn.
The Big Red Barn serves different pasta meals and sandwiches in addition to the traditional grab-and-go meals you can find at other Cornell eateries. Its dining area is much smaller than places like Trillium or larger dining halls, but it is usually easy to find a spare table outside of peak lunch hours (usually between 11am-1pm). It’s a cozier, more intimate atmosphere–a style not so easily found on Central Campus. The Big Red Barn also doubles as a great meeting location and study spot, especially if you can grab a sofa on its second floor.
One of its downsides is that it doesn’t serve dinner and closely its food stations relatively early in comparison to other dining locations on campus. If you want to eat there, I strongly recommend looking up its open hours on Cornell’s Dining website before heading over. You don’t want to go there on an empty stomach just to be disappointed. Believe me.
The line can also be fairly long during rush hour and, since there is usually only one register open, you may wait a very long time to get your meal. At those times, you should grab a sandwich and drink from the cooler instead and skip right past the meal line straight to the register. Sure, the meal won’t be as great, but at least you won’t be late for class.
When Mikey and I went, we spent several hours at the Big Red Barn studying for an upcoming exam. It was very cold outside, so Mikey naturally drifted towards the fireplace in the corner. Having missed the meal shifts, we settled on eating popcorn from the first-floor popcorn machine and tried very hard not to look at the beverage cooler situated all but 10 paces away from us. (Oh how it mocked us so…)
As we studied and occasionally distracted ourselves by swinging down the banister and playing hide-and-seek, Mikey and I caught the attention of several people who were there. The first people was a group of students who were meeting together at the Big Red Barn for a social gathering. The girls thought that Mikey was very cute and willingly posed for a photograph after hearing Mikey’s story.
Another person we met was an older gentleman from Puerto Rico. He was very curious as to why I was taking pictures nonchalantly of a stuffed panda sitting on the couch on sliding down the banister, and when I told him about how I use Mikey (and Tobi) to keep in touch with my sister back home and to write for my blog he opened up about his own relationship with his teenage niece and how he wished he had done similar bonding activities with her when she was young. Now he worries that it may be too late to form that familial bond with her because she is so busy with all her own life now that she is headed for college. We had a very interesting conversation about how to best balance work and home life and how to best develop relationships with younger family members at different stages of their life, be they children or young adults. We also touched upon the role of language and age barriers in the separation of generations among immigrant families. A more detailed account of the discussion can be read here [insert link] and it illustrates some of the amazing conversations and experiences one can accidentally come across while travelling about Cornell.
In short, the Big Red Barn is a cozy place to eat and study that is conveniently located smack in the middle of Central Campus–right next to many of the academic buildings which many students call home. It hosts several night events throughout the semester, but it is most convenient for its cozy atmosphere during the day which greatly facilitates group conversation and studying. If nothing else, you should visit the Big Red Barn simply to slide down its banister when no one is looking or to play hide and seek with your favorite panda friend.