A cafe latte buzz before class? Some couscous to go with that vegan dish? Or, perhaps a chalupa-enhanced cram session is in order? College cuisine has come a long way since the days when a fanciful on-campus dining experience meant being served mystery meat in the cafeteria.
As part of a continuing effort to enhance service and offer a more diverse food selection, JHU Dining Services is rolling out at Homewood a host of changes that include newly renovated dining facilities, a redesigned and enhanced residence hall menu, an improved vegetarian/vegan program, an on-campus convenience store, a Taco Bell Express in an all-you-can-eat cafeteria and a cybercafe with touch-screen ordering. All facilities are open to faculty and staff as well as to students.
The university also is ready to enter into a contract with an outside firm to develop a master plan for dining services on the Homewood campus, to complement the new master plan for facilities.
Jean DeVito, Dining Services director, says that while tinkering with the dining landscape is nothing new, there are a host of significant changes afoot this academic year, thanks to a new five-year partnership between the university and dining-service provider Sodexho, formerly Sodexho Marriott.
"It's a real exciting time for us," DeVito says. "In Sodexho, the university has a company that is genuinely committed to not only providing a quality dining program in the residence dining halls but also to offering new and exciting programs and services to the overall community. It's a challenge to do this all at once, but we felt that is what was needed."
The residence dining halls, in particular the Terrace Court Cafe and Wolman Station, will have a new look to them.
"Campus Crossroads-Ultimate Dining" reads the sign touting the edibles at the Terrace Court Cafe in the AMRs complex. Along with the new signage, the dining hall now features new serving stations and four food formats: classics, international, vegetarian and "pizza rette." The revamped menu offers dishes ranging from traditional casseroles and pizza to prepared-to-order Indian entrees and kosher meals. The new additions to Wolman Station--located in Wolman Hall, which sits on the corner of North Charles and 34th streets--include Charleston Market, Pastabilities and a Taco Bell Express. Charleston Market provides home-style meals and vegetarian cuisine, while Pastabilities offers freshly made pasta and homemade sauces.
Back on the main campus, the Levering Market has undergone both a face-lift and a name change. Now called the Marketplace at Levering, the dining facility has a redesigned serving area and four new stations: the Carvery, Selona Grill, Deli Signatures and Garden Gourmet. Adjacent to the Marketplace is Under the Dome at Levering, which features a new full-service Starbucks and a Global Burrito to accompany the existing Pizza Hut Express.
No time for a full meal? Quick snacks can be had at The Depot, MegaBYTES and the Jay Store, Homewood's first full-service convenience store. The Depot, located in the main lobby of Wolman Hall, features Arnie's Bagels and Spreads and Starbucks coffee. Inside AMR 2, the eclectic MegaBITES has been turned into MegaBYTES, a cybercafe outfitted with lounge-style seating, an interactive ordering system, a fresh dough pizza and pasta restaurant and other food options. The Jay Store is adjacent to the Terrace Court Cafe and offers items ranging from sandwiches and salads to laundry detergent and aspirin. The store, which also offers Freshens yogurt and smoothies, will stay open until midnight Sunday through Thursday and until 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.
In the past, convenience store items have been available at MegaBITES and The Depot, but DeVito says that the pricing of these items was typically higher than at neighborhood stores. DeVito says students should then be happy with the Jay Store, which offers more for less.
"For some there is also the issue of safety," DeVito says. "It's nice to know there is now someplace on campus where everyone can go to purchase these items."
For those who still can't find what they are looking for on campus, starting this year students can use their JCash, stored on JCards, at participating area stores and restaurants. JCash can also be used at nearly all campus dining locations.
DeVito says her office has a simple plan: Provide variety. Not only do tastes change, she says, but the cultural diversity of the campus population makes it imperative that there is something for everyone. An example of this approach, DeVito says, is the Kawasaki sushi bar on the second level of the Levering Union.
In addition, this year JHU Dining Services welcomed the new Cyber Cafe in the Mattin Center. The cafe is operated by Straight from Seattle Espresso, which also operates the Gilman Coffee Shop and Cafe Q in the Eisenhower Library.
"Over the years, the companies we've selected to provide dining services have worked hard to provide some new and exciting venues on campus. This is a requirement since the students' tastes change continually, and we must keep up with the new and trendy concepts available," DeVito says.
Susan Boswell, dean of student life at Homewood, says students these days come to Hopkins expecting dining variety.
"There is so much available to students now, as compared to just 10 years ago," Boswell says. "The expectations of both student and parent are very high, and we are trying to meet those expectations. But the quality needs to be good, too. So we have tried to build a high-quality meal plan with variety. Simply put, you can get tired of eating in the same place each day, and it's nice to have options."
The university solicited bids for dining services earlier this year and formed an ad hoc dining committee of administrators and students to review and analyze the proposals. H. Carol Mohr, senior director of Housing and Dining Services, says Sodexho was ultimately selected because of its "aggressive plan to increase quality, introduce and support popular branded concepts and change and create new facilities to best meet the needs and preferences of the campus community."
To keep up with current trends and services and meld those into any new or existing facilities on campus, the university is in the process of hiring a company to develop a dining-service master plan. The plan will assess factors such as variety, locations, quality, consistency, pricing and customer habits, DeVito says. It also will provide a blueprint for continuing to support the population and movement on campus.
DeVito says the master-planning firm could begin its project as soon as November or December. She estimates that it will take six months to complete the process.
Boswell says that a dining master plan for Homewood is one whose time has come.
"When you are a very small institution, you can do things almost on instinct," Boswell says. "But we have grown to that critical mass, so planning ahead, and factoring in our continued growth, is very beneficial to us right now."
For details on the new dining options, including menus and hours of operation, go to http://www.jhu.edu/~hds/dine.