New dining options bring new vendor, changes to meal plans

Sign displays show the new changes to our campus dining options. (credit: Young Jae Park/Photo Staff) Sign displays show the new changes to our campus dining options. (credit: Young Jae Park/Photo Staff)

If you have ever felt uninterested or unsatisfied with the food selection at Carnegie Mellon, get ready to have your interest revitalized and your taste buds tingling.

For the past year and a half, the Dining Services Advisory Council, composed of students, staff, faculty members, and the director of Housing and Dining Services, has worked to improve dining options at Carnegie Mellon by compiling feedback that they’ve received through e-mail, comment cards, and surveys. They used the information they gathered about food selection, quality, and customer service, and put a plan into action to ensure the campus community would be happy with the dining options this year.

A major part of this plan was hiring a new company, CulinArt, to create all-new dining venues and options. Downtown Deli, previously known as East Street Deli, now has an upgraded sandwich station offering wraps, paninis, melts, and a build-your-own sandwich option. Stir Crazy, formerly known as Bento Bowl, now offers new rice and noodle creations and dim sum meals.

In addition to these upgraded venues, CulinArt has created some brand new locations. Spinning Salads offers fresh, tossed-to-order salads, where you pick your favorite veggies, proteins, and toppings. Totally Juiced is an all-new fresh fruit and juice bar that offers a variety of nutritious options. But the UC is not the only place that has undergone a dining transformation.

The Resnik Café, which used to have only Taste of India, now also has Sushi Too, a traditional Japanese sushi restaurant; Take Comfort, which offers some selections that will remind you of home, such as rotisserie chicken, meatloaf, and cornbread; and Spice It Up Grill, a premium grill station that offers a variety of burgers during the day and more hearty selections at night, such as baby back ribs and jumbo shrimp.

“I wasn’t planning on getting a meal plan until I got back to campus and saw the great changes that were being made,” said Ashley Reid, a senior psychology major and resident assistant who has gotten to eat from some of these venues over Orientation week.

In order to give you a taste of the many options available this year, CulinArt is hosting an event called “Taste of the Tartans” on Sept. 8 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Rangos Hall. It is a free event that will allow the campus community to sample something from every dining location on campus.

“Our hope is to introduce members of the community to all of the dining services that are available and encourage them to not only be a customer but also to give people a chance to learn about all the places that they can find dining locations,” said Kim Abel, director of Dining Services.

All of these changes in meal options might make you wonder what changes have been made to the meal plans. There are three major changes: First is that DineX that is tied to your meal plan will last you the entire semester, rather than disappearing and refilling every two weeks. “The goal of this [change] is to allow students more flexibility with how they use that money,” Abel said. Instead of students using all their DineX on cash-out weekends because they have to, they can wait to purchase things that they actually want.

Secondly, in addition to the traditional plans — the red, blue, and green plans — and the DineX only plans, there is now a community plan. These plans allow you a certain number of meals per semester. Again, instead of eating meals because you don’t want to waste them, this plan allows you to only eat meals when you really want them.

Lastly, each of the meal plans now allows you to have two guest meals per semester. This means that you can now use your meal plan twice to take someone else out. Abel admits that this is not a lot, “but we are piloting to see how well it is received.”

Remember that you don’t just have to use your DineX on campus. DineX can also be used at the Subway on Craig Street, the Eat ’n Park on Murray Avenue, and for Vocelli’s Pizza. Coming in September, all campus-owned residence halls will have vending machines that will accept DineX also.

Another exciting addition to our dining places is entertainment. With karaoke, open mic, trivia night, and movie marathons, “these locations will no longer be just places to eat. They will be places to experience life at Carnegie Mellon,” Abel said.

When asked if she was excited for the dining options this year, Tina Robinson, a senior directing major, said, “I can’t wait! It seems like Carnegie Mellon has really stepped it up and I’m excited for the changes that are coming. The food looks great.”

Dining at Carnegie Mellon has undergone a thorough transformation and the people at Housing and Dining Services understand that often with change comes discontent.

It is important to understand that student input is critical in decisions about dining. Housing and Dining is launching a centralized customer feedback process so that anyone can give their feedback and it can be shared with the vendors. Students who would like to take a more active role can visit the Housing and Dining Services office and ask to be a part of the Dining Services Advisory Council.