Dining officials said they have responded to student feedback with the addition of two J Street stations, more vegetarian and kosher selections and service changes in Mitchell Hall for the upcoming school year.
The space Cranberry Farms occupied last year will be shared by two food venues, the Home Zone and Grilleworks featuring Philadelphia-style cheesesteaks.
Director of Marketing Amelia Powell said the Home Zone will offer more options than its predecessor, including “home-style classics with a culinary twist.” Dining Services Director Jim Gillespie called it “the new and improved Cranberry Farms.”
Gillespie said rotisserie chicken will be available daily, as well as beef stroganoff, roast beef, chicken fried steak, pork chops and various vegetarian dishes on a rotating basis. Whipped potatoes, green beans, rice and potatoes round out the Home Zone’s menu.
Gillespie said the changes were made because “Cranberry Farms gets very tired half-way through the year.”
He also said he is also excited about Grilleworks, which serves cheesesteaks and french fries.
“Poor me, I had to sample cheesesteaks all summer,” Gillespie said.
Another top priority this summer was adding more vegetarian and kosher items.
The vegetarian station next to Taco Bell, Veggie Virtuoso, will offer an entr?e, veggie burger, pasta or couscous, “loaded potato,” soup, Caesar salad and some type of rice or lo mein each day.
“And I just don’t mean plain lo mein,” Gillespie said. “We’ll have Cantonese fried vegetable lo mein or vegetable tofu lo mein (among others).”
Eight brand-new vegetarian sandwiches have also been added to the Provisions I and II lineup.
Gillespie said vegetarians complained about a lack of choices and an inability to quickly identify meatless options
He said menus which hang above each station will have bold iridescent stickers next to vegetarian selections for the day. Stickers will also be placed on pre-made food in both Provisions and at grab and go stations at J Street and Funger Express.
About five types of kosher deli sandwiches from a local deli will also be available at J Street, Provisions and Funger Express, he said.
More than fifty new kosher items including KBF preserves, Doctor Brown soda and sparkling grape juice, have been added to Provisions. An entire set of shelves is now dedicated to kosher foods, Gillespie said.
Gillespie said Dining Services is “taking a bold move (by adding so many kosher products) and we’re going to see how it goes.”
He also noted that kosher items aren’t necessarily only for people who keep kosher, and other students are expected to eat the products as well.
Besides adding kosher products, steps to integrate other cultural foods have been taken.
Gillespie said Pan Geos Flavors of Asia last year will be back with an expanded menu. He said traditional Malaysian dishes will be added to the already-popular Chinese choices.
Powell also said last year’s successful Visiting Chef Series at J Street, Thurston Dining Hall and Hall on Virginia Avenue cafeterias will return this year with “everything from Indian, Thai and Jamaican to classic American barbecue and New England seafood.”
Gillespie said he is “actively pursuing” hosting a visiting chef once every three weeks.
Gillespie said his committee has also “taken steps to increase the level of service in Mitchell Hall” after student complaints last year.
He said the “issues” last year with certain staff members and long lines will be cleared up because more workers were hired and the best management team possible has been assigned to the venue.
“Last year if you were a student and you wanted a Subway sandwich and a bottle of soda, you had to wait in line at Subway and then go over to Essentials and pay for your soda, if someone was there,” Gillespie said. “Now you can purchase your bottled beverage to go at the counter.”
Additionally the HOVA Diner will now feature an “all you can eat” buffet.
Gillespie said by working with the Student Association Dining Services Commission and listening to student e-mail suggestions, he is able to make appropriate changes.
He said every one or two complaints he gets represents one or two hundred students who feel the same way but just don’t take the time to file complaints.
“Students get the impression we’re not listening because I can’t change (things) tomorrow, but we do listen to the students,” Gillespie said.
“Students that come in and use J Street pay my salary and if I don’t listen to my customers that are paying (my salary), something’s wrong.”