Towers Eatery, formerly known as Towers Marketplace, is one of Ithaca College’s retail dining locations and has reopened under a new name after a semester of being closed because of staffing shortages.
At the Students and Families Virtual Gathering on Jan. 9, Reginald Briggs, associate director of Dining Services, announced that Towers Eatery would reopen for Spring 2023 and would operate from 5 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.
Makaylah Hebbard, manager of Towers Eatery, said the change of name for the location has been one of her priorities for the reopening.
“I want it to be a place where they can come and study and still be able to eat and have a good time and socialize, and ‘marketplace’ didn’t really reflect that,” Hebbard said. “So part of the larger scheme of rebranding our dining services is kind of making this transition from Towers Marketplace because we don’t really fit a marketplace vibe.”
Hebbard said Towers Marketplace had served as a retail-only service before the COVID-19 pandemic, but introduced the option of using meal swipes as a way to de-densify the main dining halls to help with social distancing.
Hebbard said Towers Eatery is reverting back to the retail-only service, where students can use their money or Bomber Bucks. However, Hebbard said Towers Eatery plans on expanding their service to meal swipe meals in the coming semesters.
“Right now we will not have the meal swipe just because we have to rework some things on our end as far as how the meal plans work, but going forward into next semester, our goal is to have swipe options available at all retail locations,” Hebbard said. “So the idea is, we take this time and build this program and expand it.”
Hebbard said the removal of the meal swipe option also presents an opportunity for the college to reduce food waste from Towers Marketplace. She said that with the influx of orders that came in every night, the turnaround time had been lengthy, causing the staff to become overwhelmed and forcing students to look for other options for dinner.
“We would end up with about 80 orders that people didn’t come pick up at the end of the night,” Hebbard said.
Hebbard said the expanded operating hours would allow students to have the option to eat at Towers Eatery at different times, thus reducing the congestion faced by the Towers Eatery kitchen. Hebbard said the former Towers Marketplace staff had to make about 220 orders an hour at Towers Marketplace when meal swipes were still an option.
Another change is that Terrace Dining Hall (TDH) is no longer open for late-night dining, which was from 8 to 10 p.m., and instead is open for dinner up until 9 p.m. without the 7 to 8 p.m. pause and menu change. Briggs said TDH was usually rather quiet in the last hour of late-night.
Briggs confirmed the goal is to restart the option for meal swipes at Towers Eatery but said currently the college only has enough staff to have it open as retail dining.
“The response so far has been good,” Briggs said. “Even when we did [meal swipes] before, it was pretty chaotic. So I think a lot of commuter students in particular have said they’re glad that it’s just another retail venue where they can come and use Bomber Bucks later in the evening.”
Junior Lenley Aikin said she is hoping for a shorter turnaround time at Towers Eatery after previously having to wait hours to get her food when Towers Marketplace was in operation.
“Now I’d rather just order something and then grab it real quick, so I think it makes sense reasonably on what the hours are for this year, and I think it’ll help better students, just because again it’s open ’till 10,” Aikin said.
Hebbard said there will be changes to the menu that would provide students with a larger variety of food. She said she is looking forward to the introduction of more vegan options on the menu, and said the chicken used by Towers Eatery would be halal certified.
“We are excited to be open and serving [students] and hopefully giving [students] a much better experience and even better food than we had last year,” Hebbard said.
News Editor Lorien Tyne contributed reporting.