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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 — Houston, TX

Late-night dining at Rice is hard to come by. Sid Richardson College just made it easier.

Lily Remington / Thresher

By Paige Fastnow     9/6/23 12:07am

With the serveries closed and the Hoot only open for some of the week, late-night dining at Rice quickly becomes limited. But a new initiative at Sid Richardson College has set its sights on changing that.

Sid Shoots the Cheese — a pun on the college’s GroupMe chat “Sid Shoots the Breeze” — is a pop-up restaurant project started by Sid Richardson sophomore Arjun Surya. The project aims to sell late-night grilled cheese sandwiches, when other on-campus dining options are scarce. Although Surya first proposed the idea, Sid Shoots the Cheese is hosted at and by Sid Richardson College in their commons as a committee initiative. At this point, the committee GroupMe chat has over 50 members, and between 10 to 15 people actively ran the project’s opening event.

The size of this project may come as a surprise to students at any of the 10 other colleges on campus, but the project has been in the works for quite a long time. The idea was born when Surya noticed the reception to grilled cheese at the campus serveries. 

“The days that the serveries had grilled cheese tended to be the times where the lines were the longest,” Surya said. “It was also unfortunate that last year, a lot of the places were closed on Fridays and Saturdays. I just thought it would be really convenient if we had food [on campus] that a lot of people love.”

But Sid Shoots the Cheese doesn’t follow the conventional American cheese recipe used by the serveries. Surya was emphatic that every ingredient, from the type and cut of cheese (“a mix of sliced gouda and hand-shredded cheddar, Monterey and Colby Jack”) to even the salt (combining garlic salt and Italian seasoning), was the result of years of trial and error. 

“Whenever I was at home during COVID, I would just make grilled cheese sandwiches all the time. Over time, I started experimenting with things like a parmesan crust and Italian seasoning,” Surya said. “This summer, I spent more time trying to figure out which types of cheeses work the best. I found out that Gouda and Colby and Monterey Jack definitely have the best meltability while also tasting really good, too.”

The work paid off. Sid Shoots the Cheese held their first pop-up event Thursday, Aug. 31 to rave reviews. Surya estimated around 100 people purchased sandwiches, with some waiting 40 minutes. In the line, students remained enthusiastic.

“We can see other people’s reactions as they walk back with their [grilled] cheese, and it seems pretty promising,” Sara Avalos, a Sid Richardson freshman, said while waiting. “I’m excited.”

Aiden Vierra, a freshman from Lovett, was one of the first in line to buy a sandwich, which he called “scrumptious.” 

“It tasted buttery, and a little salty and crisp,” he said.

While Surya and the Sid Shoots the Cheese team were proud of how well received their first event was, Surya also said he hopes to improve efficiency in the future. 

“The one thing that I do want to improve upon is the wait time,” Surya said. “The griddle that we had was something that I actually just got as a birthday present, because it was all out of pocket. But now that we have a decent amount of money in our budget, we’ll definitely be trying to get at least two to three more grills so that more people can come in without having to wait 40 minutes to an hour in line.”

Surya also said that the addition of more griddles would open the project up for creating allergen-free alternatives, making the restaurant more accessible. 

“Over the summer whenever [we were] doing questionnaires on Instagram, dairy free and gluten free options were [what] a lot of people asked about,” Surya said. “In the future, that is something that we definitely will try.”

In the meantime, Sid Shoots the Cheese has not announced when their next pop-up event will be. But following the unexpected size of the reception to the first event, the project is planning to host more events soon, which they intend to announce on their Instagram page. 

“Based on the success of the first [event], we’re definitely going to try to expand so that we can have it maybe multiple times throughout a single month.” Surya said, “It was really cool to see so many people show up to something that we weren’t even sure [people would come to].”

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