Student Returning from Semester Abroad Blindsided by Pandini’s Absence

A student returning from abroad caused a stir earlier this month when she organized a demonstration outside of what used to be Pandini’s in Russell House. Erin Hunter, a junior, spent the last six months in Japan, blissfully unaware of any changes to USC dining or to the campus. The one thing she had been looking forward to while abroad was a meal at Pandini’s.

It was her roommate Kate McCoy who had to break the devastating news to Hunter. “She broke down when I told her,” McCoy, a junior like her roommate, said. “I asked if she would rather go to Village Idiot or even Mellow Mushroom instead, but she said they just weren’t the same.”

In a phone interview conducted Tuesday, Hunter got emotional about the change. “No one even called to tell me! I didn’t get an email, I didn’t get a letter, I didn’t get a Carolina Alert….” She said she had nearly been in tears on the first day of classes, realizing her Tuesday lunches at Pandini’s had come to an end. A Carolina Dining employee, Doris Grant, did not seem to share Hunter’s sentiment, saying that “no one else has complained” besides Erin. She went on to explain that the new Italian restaurant, called Topio’s, has the exact same employees, menu, and interior design as its predecessor. “To be honest, we were only allotted enough money to put up a new sign and literally nothing else.”

The story gained some publicity last week when Hunter set up outside of Topio’s. Several people gathered around a bench, listening to Hunter as she gave a brief eulogy for her late favorite restaurant. An obituary is planned to be included in an upcoming edition.