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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University September 5, 2006 | Vol. 36 No. 1
Raising the (Salad) Bar for Dining

Artfully arranged ingredients at the newly christened Fresh Food Cafe, formerly the Terrace Court Cafe
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

Campus premiers new menus, facilities this fall

By Greg Rienzi
The Gazette

Panini and gelato and muffins, oh yum.

Johns Hopkins, an institution renowned for its academic and research excellence, wants to (pardon the pun) beef up its dining offerings to a world-class level, too, and this week debuts renovated facilities, a new dining hall and new menus that it hopes will satisfy every appetite on the Homewood campus.

David Furhman, director of dining programs since 2004, said that the re-examination of the campus's food services started two years ago with the Commission on Undergraduate Education's report that noted general student dissatisfaction with the dining program. The university has also regularly landed near the bottom of dining rankings in the Princeton Review, a widely read college grading site.

In its self-evaluation, Housing and Dining Services visited 14 of the nation's top college dining programs in order to get a better sense of where Johns Hopkins can and needed to be. Furhman said that the benchmarking effort found that what all the top-ranked programs had in common was great food, quality customer service, comfortable and contemporary environments and strong support from senior administration.

The results of the re-examination culminated in a strategic plan, what Furhman describes as "the dining vision." Simply put, this vision seeks to transform the Homewood dining program into one of the best of its kind.

The leaders of the new 'dining vision': Carol Mohr and David Furhman
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

"The low rankings and general dissatisfaction with dining here were a wake-up call for the university," Furhman said. "There's no reason we can't have an exceptional dining program; it just requires some visionary thinking and institutional commitment."

Of note, Johns Hopkins, after a months-long nationwide competitive search, picked Aramark to be the university's new dining provider, effective July 1. A leading provider of food and support services to universities and preparatory schools (as well as to sports facilities and other commercial ventures), Aramark currently serves more than 200 million meals annually to students, faculty and visitors at more than 400 institutions. Locally, Aramark also manages the university-owned Mt. Washington Conference Center.

Furhman said that by bringing in Aramark, Johns Hopkins was able to reinvent and re-energize dining services, which now emphasize quality, convenience and variety.

"Basically, we have a whole new meal plan now and have made comprehensive changes to all the dining facilities," he said.

Specifically, the Terrace Court Cafe, located between AMR II and Building A on the freshman quad, has been redesigned and renamed the Fresh Food Cafe. Now a sleek steel, glass and light wood environment, the completely renovated facility offers a wide variety of food options including a made-to-order deli, a mammoth salad station, hearth oven pizza and freshly baked desserts. The Fresh Food Cafe also offers a vegan/vegetarian station and kosher food.

The former MegaBytes is now the Blue Jay Cafe, which is part grill, part pizza place, part convenience store and part hangout space. The Blue Jay Cafe, located in the rear of AMR II, is open seven days a week late into the night.

Levering Food Court, which underwent a major renovation three years ago, has received a modest makeover and features four new food stations that include everything from homemade burritos to grilled salmon. They are:

Savory Deli — made-to-order sandwiches, soups and salads

Mas Mex! — a wide variety of Mexican- and Latin-inspired dishes

Levering Leaves — a "cornucopia" of fresh ingredients for customized salads

Peppercorn Grill — a place for grilled burgers, chicken, fries and more

Levering Hall's Jazzman's has become Pura Vida Organic Coffee, which offers coffees, teas, frozen smoothies, muffins, pastries, sandwiches and more. Pura Vida features 100 percent organic and shade-grown coffee, and profits go back to growers.

The all-new addition to the dining landscape is 3rd on 33rd, housed on the third floor of Charles Commons, the residential complex that opened this week on the corner of North Charles and 33rd streets. The facility, which also features study areas, is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week. It offers five dining options:

Passport — internationally inspired favorites

The Hearth — gourmet pizzas, pastas and calzones

The Grill — grilled items ranging from steak to fish

Crisp — premium sandwich and salad combinations

Finales — coffee and dessert bar with a wide selection of gelatos and artisan pastries

Expansive stainless steel, glass and light wood give the renovated Fresh Food Cafe a whole new attitude.
Photo by Will Kirk/HIPS

The nearby Wolman Station is being converted into a convenience store called Charles Street Market at Wolman Hall, expected to open at the start of spring semester 2007. Wolman Hall will also feature an Einstein Bros. bagel shop.

As part of the new meal plan, upperclassmen can now choose the "declining balance" plan option that gives the participating student 500 to 1,500 "dining dollars" per semester for a fixed cost. Freshmen will be offered a choice of the traditional 19- or 14- meals-per-week plan and will eat at campus dining facilities as part of a continuing effort to build community.

"Without doubt, a quality campus dining program is an essential element in building a greater sense of community on our campus," said H. Carol Mohr, senior director of Housing and Dining Services. "Simply put, our goal is to create a dining program that is reflective of the quality of the university as a whole."

For more information on all the Homewood dining facilities and for current hours of operation, go to:


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