Students can now use a meal swipe at the Carey Center Barista on weekday mornings.
That’s just one of several changes Parkhurst Dining Services are implementing for the spring semester.
Reggie Esmi, general manager of dining services, and Mike Logesky, director of dining, discussed the changes.
Student demand was behind the barista meal swipe option, Esmi explained.
“That was by request of the students,” Esmi said. “We looked into it for the past couple of semesters.”
As of now, the meal exchange is limited to three dollars in value (a meal exchange at the Shack is valued at $5.90). That cost is intended to reflect the value of a typical cafeteria breakfast, Esmi explained.
“The total meal exchange is equivalent to what the breakfast is [in the cafeteria], at around three dollars,” Esmi said.
The option to use a meal exchange is available from 8 a.m. to 9:30 a.m., Monday through Friday.
Change is coming to the Shack as well. Last semester’s make-your-own salad option is being replaced by a customizable burrito bowl.
Logesky explained the reason behind the make-your-own salad option.
“Typically, in the past, we ran our Parkside menu from eleven in the morning and that sometimes extended through dinner, and then we did an after-six menu. In the fall semester, we tried a salad concept — design-your-salad. That was from three in the afternoon until six. We wanted to add that option so the Parkside menu wasn’t out so long,” Logesky said.
But student response to the salad was tepid, so this semester dining services is replacing it with the burrito bowl, explained Logesky.
“With the burrito bowl, you can get the item strictly in a bowl or in a large flour tortilla shell, wrapped up as a large burrito. It’s fully customizable,” he said.
Logesky hopes the bowls can offer students who can’t dine at the
cafeteria due to time constraints the option of a real meal.
“A lot of students that would come into the Shack during that meal time, that three-to-six, were more than not likely not able to dine with us here in the Community Center or the Shack over an actual lunchtime period.
So now they’re really looking for something that is filling and is like an entree,” Logesky said.
JJ Corne, freshman communication major, commented on the changes.
“I didn’t know about either of them, but I would be interested in both of them, actually,” Corne said.
The Community Center is seeing changes, too. Starting on Friday, Jan. 26, the cafeteria will be offering “Bearcat Special” dinners on Fridays and Saturdays. Students who wish can pay an additional $10 cash or flex to obtain a made-to-order, restaurant-style entree.
Esmi explained the concept.
“These are pretty much your high-end meals, like fillet, shrimp, sirloin, and all of that. . . The way it’s going to work is first-come, first-served. It’s basically a limited amount; it depends on what the entrees are. For example, this Friday, it’s sirloin steak plus a baked potato and green beans,” Esmi said.
Billy Vana, junior history education major, was curious about the meal.
“I am interested in doing it at least once; I do think it is pricey, but I would try it at least one time just to see what it’s like,” he said.
But Esmi suggested that the special might be cheaper than eating at a sit-down restaurant.
“Rather than going outside, getting a fillet or shrimp and paying twenty-five dollars, they can have it here for an additional ten dollars in Flex,” Esmi said.
Logesky added that students could still eat the regular meal in addition to the special.
“And they’re not limited just to this; they would be able to absolutely go to the grill, still eat Parkside, salad bar, anything else, because they’re still paying that dinner price [with their meal swipe] just to enter,” Logesky said.
The cafeteria received a slight aesthetic modification as well. A new carpet was installed over break.
The old one had reached the end of its service life, Logesky explained.
And Esmi explained why the cafeteria is carpeted at all, rather than tiled: carpeting absorbs noise. The cafeteria is surrounded by brick walls, and the carpeting, though perhaps harder to clean, helps keep it from being even louder than would might be otherwise.
At least a couple students noticed the change, like Maddie Mutinelli, freshman undeclared major.
“I knew it,” she said. “When I came back from break, I noticed that the floor was different and no one agreed with me.”
Photos: John Wojtechko