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Deltopia Grub Rush: How Isla Vista Eateries Handled the Hungriest Day of the Year

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSB chapter.

By mid-day Deltopia dayge, I was ravenous, and to no surprise, the rest of Isla Vista was on the same page. The lines for Wingstop and The Habit Burger Grill were out the door with agonizing wait times. Every popular spot seemed just as swamped. Though I was distracted by my own hunger, I envisioned myself on the flip side of the coin, realizing how exhausting this day must be for the servers.

During this weekend, thousands of students pour into the streets, UCSB and non-local IV visitors alike. Wannabe DJs blast music up and down Del Playa, and police patrol the streets in flocks. With so many people crowding in, the hot spots for food in I.V. are overcome by students. Each employee is scheduled for non-stop rush. The lines never end, and the orders keep racking in.

I decided to come back a few days later to gather a report on the impact of Deltopia on local business in Isla Vista. After my survey, I feel we all owe these I.V. employees some serious props. It is no easy task to feed the masses — especially when most customers likely aren’t sober. As “A Guide To Your First Deltopia” mentions, it’s crucial for partygoers to stay nourished throughout the day, as drinking on an empty stomach can be dangerous. But how do local food businesses manage to meet these demands?

Prepping for the party

My first question to local spots focused on how they geared up for Deltopia. Did they have to order more inventory? Did they plan and prepare for mayhem ahead of time? Wingstop, Habit, and Hummus Republic employees all confirmed they had to stock up. A Wingstop employee explained they ordered more napkins and cups, cancelled their sandwich option, and made preparations similar to those for Super Bowl weekend.

What about staff preparations? A Hummus Republic employee shared that managers made sure to check everyone’s availability way ahead of time. They also scheduled more staff for shorter shifts to prevent employees from becoming exhausted during the hectic day. This way, employees could swap out, take a break, and recharge.

When asked if the rush was manageable, employees from Habit Burger confessed that it was intensely demanding. They faced a relentless line from 11 a.m. until closing, with no opportunity for even a brief pause. A five-minute break, they noted, would have made a significant difference. Curious about customer behavior during such a busy time, especially given how parties can amp up the energy, I inquired about any issues. The Habit staff reported that, overall, customers were well-behaved, aside from a few who, likely under the influence, were slow and slurring when placing orders.

Let’s appreciate our Local legends

My visits and conversations showed the resilience and dedication of those on the front lines — the servers, cooks, and managers who keep it all running. In a college town, it’s easy for things to go awry, but these workers kept it together and rose up to the challenge. Next time you go to your favorite I.V. eatery, make sure to thank those who operated during Mission Critical: Deltopia 2024.

Looking ahead, let’s make a collective effort to be especially considerate of those serving us during the first weekend back from spring break. As we enjoy Deltopia, it’s crucial to remember and respect the hardworking employees who help make our fun possible.

Hi! I'm Margot, a first-year student majoring in Global Studies at UCSB. I grew up in New Jersey but later moved to the Seattle area (bless Santa Barbara for saving me from all those rainy days). I'm an editorial intern but when I'm not writing for Her Campus, I like to eat good food, read, and make pottery or scrapbooks.