The sound of sizzling steaks being prepared exactly to the customers’ liking can now be heard in dining halls across the Ithaca College campus.
Made-to-order steaks and pop-up “restaurants” are new features provided by the college’s Dining Services. Savory, high-class dinners are available for purchase, ranging from $4–7 added to a regular meal swipe, on a few randomly selected dates throughout the academic year. The new dining-hall options are Crave meals and Stone Steakhouse steaks.
Crave, which offers meals including pad thai and tapas, was developed by Sodexo and the general manager of dining services, Jeffery Scott, earlier this academic year to create a new and tasteful way to enjoy food in the dining halls. Crave meals are also offered at other campuses that serve Sodexo food. The new choices are focused on improving student satisfaction with on-campus food as well as giving students new dining experiences.
“The spirit of Crave is really to try to create some restaurant, or premium, offers right in dining halls,” Scott said.
Crave follows the trend of pop-up restaurants to create a more pleasant dining experience. During regular service hours, the staff blocks off a part of the dining hall and decorates the section with table cloths to further deliver the illusion of a restaurant to the students. On Feb. 13, in the upstairs section of the Terrace Dining Hall, a Crave pop-up restaurant was assembled to provide the students with a seven-course small-plate meal, including beef picadillo empanadas and grilled tomato bread, for $18 using cash or a credit card.
Scott said the purpose of featuring restaurant-style dining is to provide students with additional dining opportunities on campus.
“In this case, it was creating a new, fun experience, but really just with a focus on some premium offers that, you know, we don’t typically menu here all the time,” Scott said.
The dining hall staff has also had to make adjustments to work with the new options. Junior Jacob McAuliffe is a worker with the college’s catering and was a waiter at the Crave event on Feb. 13.
“I thought it was really cool,” McAuliffe said. “I thought the food was really good. It was a nice change from the dining hall food.”
The meals from the Crave station were prepared for each individual by artistically designing each plate.
“Each plate was specifically designed to look aesthetically pleasing,” McAuliffe said. “You’re eating in the dining hall but, food wise, it’s completely different. It’s like you’re at a restaurant, and then a very fancy one too.”
However, Crave isn’t the only new option at the dining halls. The Stone Steakhouse dining option is offered to students who are willing to pay an additional $4 with their meal plan swipe. Stone Steakhouse allows the students to order a steak and have it prepared in front of them.
Freshman James Dellasala saw the Stone Steakhouse advertised on a poster in Campus Center Dining Hall and said he decided to try it because he thinks the dining hall food gets boring.
“After months of dining hall food, who doesn’t want steak?” Dellasala said.
The Stone Steakhouse option, Dellasala said, is surprisingly good and worth the money he spent on it. However, he advises pre-planning when buying the steak, because it takes longer to prepare a steak dinner.
“It takes, like, 20 minutes for them to make it,” Dellasala said. “And it’s really awkward when you’re with friends and you make them wait.”
In the upcoming months, Stone Steakhouse may make a few more appearances on the menus of the dining halls.
“We are going to do more of the steakhouse,” Scott said. “We are going to try it in Towers as well as in Terrace.”
No exact dates have been set for the future Stone Steakhouse meals, but Scott assures the students that there will be more. However, the Crave pop-up restaurants are being reevaluated to make them more attractive to the student body. Fewer than 20 students dined at the last Crave event, Scott said, so price, location and menu items are likely to change.
McAuliffe said he thinks the traditional dining hall food may be satisfactory, but the new food options break up the monotony and allow students to vary their meals.
“It gives students a chance to have something else to eat,” McAuliffe said. “It’s a great new opportunity on campus.”