Commons dining hall introduces new concept dining


Photo by Alden Hartopo

This fall, Commons Dining Hall unveiled a major redesign of the way it serves food. Rather than the traditional buffet-style lines, dining services decided to introduce “concept dining,” an approach where individual lines consistently serve a particular type of food.

In addition to the new dining options, the dish return has also been renovated for a more streamlined approach.

The changes came due to feedback from students about the dining hall experience at Calvin. A focus group of Calvin students specifically expressed a desire for more personalized choices at the dining hall. For example, students appreciate Uppercrust because of the way they can choose their own ingredients for sandwiches and salads.

Line one at the revamped commons is set up like a taqueria, similar to Qdoba or Chipotle. People can either choose from a set list of burritos and tacos, or select their own toppings for a burrito, burrito bowl, or taco. The popular pasta bar, previously only offered on Wednesdays, will be available daily on line two. The new pasta bar will feature daily pasta dish specials, as well as the pizza that has always been at Emma and Charlie’s.

While students can wait in line for their burritos or pasta, there will also be a self-serve “express” line set up with a different pre-made version of burrito or pasta that students can pick up without having to wait in line.

The middle bar, now termed “the globe,” will serve different international foods on a rotating schedule with regular appearances of old favorites.

Breakfast will not change — students will have the same hot lines and buffet options as before. Regular hot line and buffet options will also remain in place on Sundays.

Knollcrest, too, has made some adjustments to its lineup. It added a wellness bar designed for those looking for more nutritious options. Knollcrest will also feature “Americana”  cuisine this year for students looking to explore different regional U.S. foods.

“It’s a commitment,” Don Hershey, the chef manager at Commons, said of the changes. “As we see how it goes, we’ll tweak it and try to keep students happy.”

Hershey said that Calvin had sent people to other schools to observe what they were doing with their dining halls and noticed a trend toward offering more student choice in dining.

“I think it’s great,” said Elise Mathews, a junior and student manager at Commons. “Upperclassmen are going to want to come here. And it’s like, if you get bored of Knollcrest you can come over here, or if you’re tired of here, you can go back to Knollcrest.”

Sophomore Tiffany Atwood appreciates the options for people with allergies:

“I like the variety because of the food I’m allergic to. I don’t have to eat the same sandwiches every day.”

The taqueria contains all gluten-free ingredients except for the burritos, as well as a number of vegetarian options.

Bernice Portugal, a sophomore, appreciated how the dining choices remind her of LA, where she grew up. “This is more like what we eat there.”

She added: “I like the food because it feels like home.”