WILLIAMSTOWN — Come the end of spring break at Williams College, students, faculty and staff — as well as residents and visitors — will find that a new Log has rolled into town.
The Log, an off-campus restaurant and meeting place for students and alumni, as well as the general public, will reopen in April under new management — Ramunto's Brick Oven Pizza, according to Stephen Klass, vice president of student life at Williams.
Ramunto's is a popular pizzeria featuring craft beer with locations in Vermont and New Hampshire and its newest location in North Adams.
Klass said the owner of Hops & Vines, the former operator of The Log, terminated the contract when he closed his other Williamstown restaurant in December to concentrate on his restaurant operations in New York City.
"They all did a great job, and we're really grateful to them for helping us get this unique operation off the ground," he said.
Ramunto's, it turns out, will be a better fit for a college student-oriented eatery, Klass said.
Under the previous operator, servers waited on individual tables in a full-service style restaurant. With Ramunto's, the customer will make their order and pay when entering, get a number tag and grab a table. When their order is ready, a server will bring it to their table, somewhat similar to the student dining options in Paresky Center on campus.
Built in 1941 by Kenneth Reynolds, Class of 1916, The Log was donated to the college, at the time known as Alumni House.
Until the drinking age changed in the mid-1980s, The Log used to be a place where all four classes could get together, have a beer, a snack and hang out. It was one of two or three centers of social gravity at the college for a long time.
But then the drinking age became 21, excluding most of the students from imbibing there. Eventually, The Log closed and was used primarily for special functions and conferences.
In 2012, officials started focusing on how to reopen the space in a way that would attract the college community as well as the general public.
After discussions with students and alumni, officials determined that the college community wanted a place that didn't feel like a college facility, an informal setting close to campus where all four years of students could socialize. They also wanted it to be open to staff, faculty and the public so they could be part of the overall community.
So the nine-month, $4.5 million studs-out renovation began, entirely funded by alumni donations.
In 2015, The Log reopened under the management of Hops & Vines.
This next phase, Klass said, will hopefully find favor with the college community and the general public.
"We were very interested to see them come in and open their store so successfully in North Adams," he said of Ramunto's. "One of the things we think will fit well with the students is that every menu item is customizable, from pizza to pasta. I think they've got a model that works perfectly with the way we envision The Log."
Klass said installing some pizza ovens in the kitchen and a few other minor changes will be made in preparation with the goal of opening on April 1.
The Log by Ramunto's will feature the full Ramunto's menu, which includes a wide variety of pizza, pasta, wings, calzones, salads and burgers. It seats 180 people.
"I expect this place to be humming just like their other locations," Klass said.