Many subtle and noticeable changes have been made to dining services this year at Eastern Michigan University.Larry Gates, the director of dining services, said there have been new cafés added around campus and two were remodeled.
“The new cafés are located in McKenny, Halle Library and Sill Hall,” he said. “There is also a café at the COB in downtown Ypsilanti.”
He said he is most excited about the design for the McKenny Union and Alexander Hall cafés.
“They were designed by graduate students as a class project,” Gates said. “The walls, countertops and everything else was all their ideas.”
Gates said a combined total of more than $80,000 was spent on the cafes in McKenny Union and Alexander Hall.
“Another $80,000 was spent on Crossroads Marketplace,” he said. “There are new picnic tables outside of crossroads called the patio. It is the only dining place with outdoor seating we wanted to try it out and it has been really well received.”
Gates said the café menus were updated to include more items.
“Examples of this include breakfast items, sandwiches, salads, soups, snacks, pastries and beverages,” he said. “Some café’s also have sushi, some coffee from Starbucks and nachos.”
Paradox Café, located in Halle Library G 12, had more coffee, tea and snack options added to its menu. A completely new addition to campus is fresh sushi. Crossroads Market Place, Green Market Bistro, Lobby Shop, Eagle Café at McKenny, Eagle Café at Halle Library and Eagle Café at the College of Business all have sushi.
“The sushi is prepared by Advanced Fresh Concept at the local Kroger’s in town,” he said. “The company handles the sushi to make sure that it is fresh and eaten that day.”
Gates said dining services has also taken extra care to add more healthy options for students.
“Eastern is striving to provide healthier options,” he said. “The Green Market Bistro is offering more vegan and vegetarian options with their sandwiches and the flat bread sandwiches in the eateries offer a lower calorie option.”
The facilities were also upgraded with more refrigeration to keep the food fresh. Dining Services has also implemented a standard of consistency that allows people to get the same kind of fresh food no matter which of the cafés they shop at.
“There is satellite consistency for surveillance of the dining services at Eastern,” Gates said.
Other changes have been made as well, such as the names of a few of the cafes.
“The names of the cafés were voted on and also changed,” he said. “For instance, the café in Alexander is called Café Crescendo and the café in Marshall is called the Common Ground Café.”
The Dining Commons also received some changes. They were repainted and some of the booths got refurbished. The Lobby Shop received new floors and refrigeration areas as well.
Some noticeable changes were made to the popular Eastern Eateries as well.
“There is no more A&W in the Eastern Eateries,” Gates said. “Instead, there is an Eastern Street Grill that offers an Angus steak burger. Eastern Street Grill offers fresh burgers based off of five guys and burgers. At Dining Services we see vendors from other places and try to bring them to campus.”
Students and faculty members might be surprised to find out that Eastern is considering a completely new food area.
“There may be a new renovated dining hall coming soon,” Gates said. “Eastern is trying to keep up with other universities liked Michigan, Michigan State and Central University that all have a new or a second dining hall.
“Eastern is touring other schools to get ideas for new food stations. We are now thinking about a comfort food station and a Mongolian grill.”
Gates said Eastern is really trying to “get back to the basics of freshly prepared foods” by offering something new and exciting.
“People can buy anything in the stores these days; we want to give people something different,” he said.
Most students at Eastern Michigan University seemed to be excited about or pleased with the new dining hall renovations.
“I love the new shaker salads,” Matt Honig, a junior and computer science major, said. “I can make up my cup of salad and my cup of dressing and shake it on my way to class.”
Stephanie Simon, a senior biology major, said, “I really like the East Street Grill fresh burgers. I think it was a great upgrade from A&W.”
Tabitha Peterson, a junior criminal justice major, said, “I am excited to see what is to come in the future, because I already like the food.”