Tucked away in the southwest corner of campus, the Willard dining hall, attached to the largest of the eleven Residential Colleges, offers a completely unique culinary experience. While serving as a regular cafeteria during the day, at 8pm on weekdays and 7pm on Sundays, it transforms into a late night food joint. Staying open until 2am, Fran’s is the last place to close on the southern end of campus. Fran’s offers a wide variety of fast food staples, from pizza to fries, and some less common items such as the Chipotle Turkey Panini and the Nutella milkshake. Besides the awesome food, Fran’s also has relaxed atmosphere perfect for anyone looking for a place to do work, meet up with a friend, or simply warm up during the Chicago winter. Perhaps the best part of Fran’s is the atmosphere. In the words of one of my fraternity brothers, who went to Fran’s every possible night during the winter quarter of his first-year, “There’s no better place to escape the cold and warm up by the fire with great company and delicious food.”
As a resident of Willard during both my first and sophomore years, I used to spend my nights huddled up in Fran’s with good friends and great food, cranking out homework. During most of our trips, my friend group occupied the one round table located in a circular indent in the wall, which we collectively nicknamed the Knowledge Nook. Despite the name, more laughs were had than pages written, and more quesadillas consumed than Quizlets produced. Throughout the ups and downs of the school year, these nights in the Knowledge Nook proved one of the biggest constants in my life. No matter how my day was going, I could always plop down with a panini and milkshake and decompress. On more than one occasion, the only thing powering me through finishing my Orgo midterm or typing out another page of my English paper was knowing a meal at Fran’s was coming as a reward. I can’t imagine my Northwestern experience without Fran’s.