Living in the city that never sleeps is no good without late night establishments. In this series, we’ll be trolling the wide variety of hangouts (both alcoholic and not) where Columbia students make their worst decisions, looking to capture what makes Columbia nightlife so different. In the first installment, Blue and White Senior Editor Eliza Shapiro heads to Roti Roll to learn what a mess drunk people make.
Some things are complicated: the housing lottery, health care reform, The Nicomachean Ethics. Other things are not. If it is 3 AM on Thursday, and you’ve gotten over Tom’s, you are going to Roti Roll.
And Pramod Silwal is waiting for you. Silwal is one of two Roti employees who works the full weekend shift: from 5 PM to 4 AM on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Silwal, 26, has been working at Roti for a little over two years. “I get sick of the smell,” he admits.
Breathing spice-soaked air for ten hours a night doesn’t always leave Silwal wanting a big dinner, but he does eat in-house sometimes: “the Chicken Malai Frankie is my favorite when I want meat.” The Chicken Malai is Roti’s most popular item, but Silwal notes that sloshed students make a mess of the green sauce.
Silwal and his fellow employees know what we’re up to. “Once people get drunk at the bar…” he trails off, “they come here.” Silwal generally doesn’t mind that Roti Roll is predominantly drunk food: “we are so busy on the weekends!”
Even on weekdays, Roti is far from quiet, due to its rather close quarters with next-door gay bar, Suite. The proximity can be fun, but some nights are a little too much for Silwal. “Karaoke night on Tuesday and Thursdays,” he cringes, “oh my god, those are the worst nights of my life. Bad music and bad singers.”
The inundation of inebriated Columbians Thursday to Saturday nights can be rough: “sometimes it’s annoying because we’ve been here since 5 or 6 PM and people come in between 2 and 3 AM we’re tired.” The 2 AM to 4 AM block is particularly draining: “we have to clean up every 15 minutes after 2 AM” when patrons spill aloo fries and mango lassi. Silwal helps befuddled customers with their menu options. “When people get drunk, they come in here and say, ‘give me a foot roti!’” What do they want off the menu? “‘I don’t care,’” Silwal imitates, ‘just give me a foot!’”
At 4 AM, when Roti employees are more than ready to close up, there are sometimes hungry students knocking at the door, pleading for roti once the floor is clean and the register is closed.
There was a vomit incident “just once. A long time ago.” War on Fun, what have you wrought?