You have probably never eaten at Chique Chaque. Unless you are a member of Psi Upsilon, one of the few fraternities on campus, you may not have even heard of it. Chique Chaque, open to all Wesleyan students, exists on the shadowy periphery of campus dining. Pronounced like a mash-up of Chick Chack and Sheik Shack, the fraternity-eating club is listed on the University’s meal-plan brochure. Yet most students spend their meal points elsewhere.

“I knew there was a place to eat at Psi U,” said Evan Schnoll ’11. “But I didn’t know it was open to everyone. On the campus dining survey, I always put down N/A [for Chique Chaque].

I decided to test the waters myself. At 12:12 p.m. on Thursday, I found myself beating on the locked wooden doors of the Psi U house on High Street, hungry, tired, and shivering, hoping that the cold rain would stop or that someone would let me in.

A kind person eventually opened the door and let me in. I was ready for lunch.

Chique Chaque is not a formal place. It is comprised of a cluster of tables near the fraternity kitchen. On this particular occasion, about 12 Psi U brothers were indulging in hearty bowls of beef stew flavored with hot sauce.

“Can I eat here?” I asked. Someone disappeared with my WesCard and someone else showed me where to scoop myself beef stew.

I sat down along the table to talk with the regulars.

“The Brothers who live in the house pay in like 600 points,” said Adam Rashkoff ’13, a member of Psi U. “But it’s worth it. I really enjoy the food. It’s fun and convenient, although some meals are definitely better than others.”

Non-Psi U customers are a rare occurrence.

“Technically, anyone could roll through,” Rashkoff said. “But maybe they would feel a little awkward if they don’t know that many people. And we don’t advertise it.”

Chique Chaque serves lunch and dinner, Monday through Thursday. At any given meal, one dish is served. Traditional favorites include turkey panini, meatball subs, chicken pot-pie, pasta, rice, vegetables, and the recently discontinued “spicy chicken sandwich.” A small salad bar is open for every meal. Ed Dunham, the Psi U property manager, cooks the meals with help from members of the fraternity.

In a University with limited dining options, Chique Chaque is a well-kept secret. One other campus institution bears direct comparison: the popular Star and Crescent restaurant at the Alpha Delta Phi literary society, which serves large meals each day to both Alpha Delt members and nonmembers alike.

“Star and Crescent tries to make money,” said Adam Forbs ’13, a member of Psi U. “We’re like a nonprofit. We’re just here to feed hungry brothers.”

Neither eating club actually runs a profit. But according to Psi U brothers, Chique Chaque actually runs a deficit.

“Alumni are a big part of why we haven’t gone under,” Rashkoff said. “They’re nostalgic; we’ve been going since 1893. So many of their best memories from college come from eating meals with their Psi U brothers.”

The Annals of Psi Upsilon, a thousand page tome published by the Executive Council of Psi Upsilon in 1941, actually dates Chique Chaque to April of 1866. Before MoCon opened in the mid-1960s, there was no central dining space on campus, fraternities abounded, most students (as many as 90 percent) were fraternity members, and fraternity eating clubs were a staple of campus dining. Star and Crescent and Chique Chaque are the final vestiges of this ‘Old Wesleyan.’

Even if it is somewhat secluded from the rest of campus, Chique Chaque is beloved by Psi U.

“I really like it because I can roll out of bed at noon, walk downstairs, find some food, and never have to leave the house in the winter,” said Alex Hirsch ’13.

Chique Chaque may not be well known, but it is here to stay.

“Most student will never come here,” Rashkoff said. “We don’t play Drake during our meals like they do in Usdan.”

Review: pi out of five starts. Add hot sauce.

  • David

    “I really like it because I can role out of bed at noon, walk downstairs, find some food, and never have to leave the house in the winter . . .”

    As as Wesleyan student from the 1960’s, I can identify with that. My fraternity bedroom was directly over the dining room, and more than once the scraping of chairs at lunch woke me.

    Back in the “old days” fraternity dining clubs were required to allow any applicant to eat at the fraternity. Had to, because there were no other options. Meals were at scheduled times, and of course a majority of our dining club members did not live in the house. Latecomers could pick at leftovers, but that was all the flexibility there was.

    There were two meal choices. Eat, or don’t eat. Neither the kitchens nor the budgets could accommodate multiple choices. Meals were served “family style” by student waiters, and all the kitchen work except the cooking was done by the fraternity brothers.

    Our cook Frank Cyr also cooked for the Boston Celtics at their training camp. He was a very smart guy, hugely overweight, and amazingly funny. The rumor was that he had attended Columbia University, but this was untrue.

    We did not understand it at the time, but Frank was our adult supervision for four years. He did this by ruthlessly making fun of everyone. Student skins were a lot thicker then, and he helped to keep us minimally humble.

    My freshman room on Foss Hill overlooked the gigantic hole that was to become the dining hall. I watched it go up that year. It was an ugly, ill designed building, but it changed Wesleyan more than any building before or since its construction. It served its purpose (one of which was to reduce the influence of fraternities), but I am not sorry that it’s gone.

    (By the way, it’s usually “roll” out of bed rather than “role.” But with Psi U brothers, both are probably applicable.)

  • Taran

    Your article perfectly shows what I nedeed to know, thanks!