In our opinion:

October 22, 2009

Where is the Mexican restaurant that used to be in Tolliver Hall?

When students returned fall quarter, expecting that plastic container full of refried beans indicative of Aramark cuisine, they were sadly disappointed – or maybe not so sadly. That food was about as traditionally Hispanic as Taco Bell’s “Spanglish”-spouting Chihuahua, and its absence might be making room for something better – maybe even an actual Taco Bell (although some would argue that to be no improvement).

Crystal Berry, marketing coordinator for Tech’s dining services, has been sifting through some 700-odd responses to two dining surveys recently sent to students’ Tech e-mail addresses. The first, a quality survey, asked students to rate freshness of food, friendliness of staff and sociability of dining atmosphere – among other qualifiers – based on location: The Cafe, the Food Court or Tolliver Hall. It also outlined the Jam Rewards program implemented this quarter.

Berry said from her – so far – cursory analysis (the polls closed only last week) that she saw no overarching trends in students’ complaints. Actually, she said she thinks most students are fairly content with the way the cookie crumbles, metaphorically speaking.

At worst, students have asked for healthier options or at least a more clearly designated nutritional information system, a request for which Berry has devised the “Just For You” program; soon students will notice signs explaining that a certain dish has fewer than 500 calories or that these vegetables were steamed rather than butter-logged.

The second survey polled the student population to determine what type of food would be in most demand if the possibility of a new food chain became reality. Berry has found Chinese food to be most popular, an upscale bakery/sandwich shop to rank second, and Mexican food and an ice cream/smoothie creamery to tie for third. What students may not realize is that this rumored addition to the Tech food group may not be a national chain at all. It could be instead another Aramark branded outlet. Exhale disillusioned sigh here.

However, we greatly appreciate the Dining Service’s efforts to take into account the students’ preferences, but we also encourage less conventional thought: instead of funding the addition of a food outlet that will likely be less than satisfactory, why not save the effort for a bigger undertaking – developing an off-campus declining balance system? Or expanding Tech Bytes to accommodate those with an on-campus kitchen?

These are just food for thought.