Students seeking an alternative to Annenberg can regularly find food trucks peddling cod, pizza, falafel, and tacos in the Science Center Plaza. Notably absent, however, is a favorite vendor from previous semesters: Chicken and Rice Guys.
Chicken and Rice Guys’ food trucks have been off the road since April, according to the popular halal restaurant’s CEO and co-founder Ian So. In that time frame, the company missed the opportunity to apply for Harvard Common Spaces food truck program at the Science Center Plaza.
After an E. coli outbreak linked to Chicken and Rice Guys temporarily shuttered the Boston-based restaurant’s shops and food trucks this spring, the restaurant has been working to get back on its feet.
Harvard Campus Services spokesperson Michael D. Conner wrote in an email that because the trucks were not operational during the application window for this semester, they were removed from consideration.
“The safety of our students, faculty, and staff is, and will remain, a top priority,” Conner wrote. “We maintain a good relationship with Chicken and Rice Guys and will certainly invite them to apply for the program this coming spring.”
So said that trucks have started servicing other locations again for the first time in the past few weeks, and that they look forward to returning to Harvard in the future.
“We were off the road longer than we had expected, and Harvard had expected, but we’re back now and we would like to vend at Harvard and I think there are some windows to come back and vend,” he said.
Some students are eagerly awaiting the return of their favorite campus food option, which used to visit the plaza three times per week.
Peter M. Bearse ’19, who said he frequented Chicken and Rice Guys at least once—and sometimes multiple times—per week, said he was eager for the truck to return.
“No offense to the other trucks, but no truck draws that level of crowd size as Chicken and Rice Guys, and it’s for a reason, because it’s so good,” he said. “Knowing that they will be back and they didn’t just get a hard no is a big relief.”
Arin L. Stowman ’19 said she was similarly dismayed to find Chicken and Rice Guys absent from the food truck selection. She said she used to eat at the truck for lunch each Friday, and has been trying to find a way to go to their Boston location in the truck’s absence.
“The main thing is that it’s simple: it’s chicken and rice, some vegetables thrown in there, but when you add the sauce, it takes it to a whole other level,” she said. “I think it’s a good flavor that they have going on. It’s just kind of unattainable anywhere else here on campus.”
Bearse said he has been going to Chicken & Rice Guys’ Allston storefront every few weekends to get his favorite grub, but that it is no match for having the convenience of his favorite truck right at school.
“The thing is, Chicken & Rice Guys is a place you go because you want to go. I feel like sometimes the other trucks, you eat there because you have to, you’re in a rush, or something like that,” Bearse said. “I go to the brick-and-mortar Chicken & Rice Guys stores now—it’s the only way I can get it.”
Stowman said she was excited for the truck to hopefully return in the spring, and that she was not worried about E. coli.
“I feel like after you find that and you take the necessary measures, they’re obviously going to be cleaner now than they were before. I was never really affected even though I went pretty often,” she said. “It shouldn’t happen, but it does, it’s just something to live with.”
—Staff writer Alison W. Steinbach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @alisteinbach.—Staff writer Katherine E. Wang can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @katiewang29.
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