Just blocks north of the Provo and Orem border, a large decorative owl sits perched outside a restaurant, silently greeting groups of hungry students late into the night.
The owl, iconic as it may have become for its host Roll Up Crepes, represents a larger and surprisingly rare idea in this college town: late-night dining. With work, midterms, procrastinated papers and a constant need for both energy and actual food, BYU students are turning their attention — and their wallets — to restaurants who boast late closing times.
Roll Up Crepes, which is open until 1 a.m. or later Monday through Saturday, reported steady business throughout the day and increased profits on the weekends and later at night. Chris Figueroa, the Roll Up Crepes assistant manager, said the business sees a lot of regulars during FHE and post-bedtime.
“We see a lot of couples from BYU who can’t stay in apartments past curfew,” Figueroa said. “They’ll come in at eleven, order something, and then stay here for two or three hours until we close.”
Featuring a weekly open mic night and Pinterest-esque decor, the restaurant screams “college hangout” and is host to floods of students in the waning hours of the night.
Marcela Martinez, a senior from Elk Grove, Calif., studying philosophy, frequents Roll Up Crepes.
“Provo lacks the quintessential hangout spots that are often associated with university towns,” Martinez said. “While technically in Orem, Roll Up Crepes attempts to fill that void by filling you up with delicious crepes of all varieties. Plus, the names of the crepes are hilarious. ‘Summer Fling,’ anyone?”
Although most sit-down locations are closed by the time students embark on a mission to cure their late-night munchies, students are still chowing down on midnight breakfasts and drive-thru burritos.
Hayley Thayer, a media arts major from Dallas, consistently grabs midnight snacks with her friends and roommates. McDonald’s is a frequent choice, and it’s all about the hotcakes. With breakfast served at midnight, the Provo McDonald’s drive-thru line consistently backs up into Bulldog Blvd., with cars waiting 20–30 minutes before even being able to place an order.
“There aren’t pancakes like McDonald’s anywhere else,” Thayer said. “They’re worth it.”
Mainly aimed at a college audience, Provo restaurants with extended hours thrive when much of the world is asleep. Managers from Me Crepes and Sonic also said business is best late at night, when groups of students make up their clientele. Joining these restaurants as student favorites are Rancherito’s, Del Taco and Cafe West — better known as “The Hospital.”
Located inside the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center, Cafe West serves a variety of inexpensive food to hospital patients and their loved ones. Perhaps the most unlikely place imaginable to host large groups of college kids, Cafe West continues to gain popularity as more and more students discover this “secret.”
Noah Robins, who is studying statistics and psychology, said that going to Cafe West is a trendy thing to do.
“People cock their eyebrow when you ask them to go, and they are more willing to go because it sounds edgy,” Robins, who hails from Renton, Wash., said. “And when it comes down to it, nobody wants to go alone to a midnight food run.”