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The Lounge at UNL

Kate Miller (left), Walter Bircher (middle) and Dillion Jones (right) discuss saving The Lounge, the late-night snack bar in the basement of Neihardt Residence Hall, while studying there on Monday, Dec. 12, 2011. The shop was expected to close Wednesday and eventually be replaced by a different food stop with earlier hours. (BRYNN ANDERSON/Lincoln Journal Star)

The three University of Nebraska-Lincoln sophomores from Omaha met at The Lounge, a snack bar and grill in the basement of Neihardt Residence Hall, about four nights a week to study, get a late-night bite to eat and socialize.

"It's just a really good communal space," said English major Dillon Jones.

"It serves food later than anything else," added Kate Miller, a philosophy major.

"We want to save it, but I don't think it's possible," said mechanical engineering major Walter Bircher.

Bircher and student Jon Lambert started a petition and website --www.jonhlambert.com/savethelounge.php -- to try to save The Lounge.

Their efforts aren't likely to succeed, and Tuesday marked The Lounge's last day before it was set to be closed for renovation into a sandwich shop similar to a restaurant now at Abel and Sandoz residence halls called Husker Hoagies.

Husker Hoagies serves 700 to 900 students a day for lunch, and the university is seeking to give students greater access to the food it serves, Housing Director Sue Gildersleeve said. The shop will feature made-to-order sandwiches, chips, soup and beverages.

"The Husker Hoagies at Abel-Sandoz is so very popular students are waiting in line quite a long time ... for a sandwich," Gildersleeve said.

Unlike The Lounge, open 7 p.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday, the sandwich shop likely will be open 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Monday-Friday, Gildersleeve said.

The loss of a late-night eating spot frustrates students.

"I'm kind of upset about it," said Callie Pittard, a junior Spanish major. "It's a good place to study."

She said she goes to The Lounge for its burgers, pretzels and ice cream. On a recent night, the pre-med student studied with international studies junior Abby Peterson.

"We don't study during the day like this," Pittard said.

"It's just not going to be the same environment," Peterson said.

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As a result of student opposition to The Lounge's closing, the university plans to explore offering 24-hour vending that would provide drinks and possibly food in the new sandwich shop, Gildersleeve said. The booths, tables, projection screen and stage area at The Lounge will remain open to students, she said.

However, The Lounge's griddle and smoothie blenders won't be there to satisfy late-night hunger pangs.

Gildersleeve said The Lounge was the only late-night snack bar of its kind on campus, but students can find late-night food at convenience stores in Knoll and Selleck residence halls.

The university also has convenience stores in Abel-Sandoz and The Village dorms.

For their part, Jones, Miller and Bircher don't expect to frequent the new sandwich shop the way they did The Lounge.

"People won't come, because there's not a reason to," Jones said. "Something that's clearly important to the students is being taken away."

​Reach Kevin Abourezk at 402-473-7225 or kabourezk@journalstar.com.

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