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The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

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Renovation rekindles Montgoris Dining Hall experience Montgoris renovations offer new dining stations, food choices

This year, St. John’s students finally got what they had been asking for: a renovated Montgoris Dining Hall that includes new seating, new food choices and improvements based on student input.

The dining hall, which students affectionately call “Monty’s,” received several upgrades when it comes to both design and dining.

Scott Lemperle, executive director of conference & auxiliary services, explained that the new design was meant to feel open and create a flow to help guests get their meals and everything else they need in a quicker fashion.

New colors and designs in conjunction with different seating and dining stations, “bring it to a first class dining experience,” Lemperle said.

The changes are noticeable from the moment one walks in. Booths have been added around the edge of the dining room, and a semi-transparent partition separates the flow of incoming students from those who are dropping off their used dishware and leaving.

When students go to get their food of choice, they notice that the food stations, or “destination stations” as Lemperle called them, have been moved out further into the space.

These stations were brought out toward the dining area so the food could be made to order by the chefs, who could work outside of the kitchen and be visible to students.

Bringing the stations out and also separating them with open space allows for students to circle around on either side of the stations. In turn, lines are shorter and turnover is higher, according to Lemperle.

“We wanted to achieve separate destination stations,” Lemperle said. “It’s handled the flow of students really well.”

Lemperle explained how, for example, having a double-sided salad bar allows students to make their salad from either side, increasing the number of students served and preventing a long line from forming like it used to with the old design.

Lemperle also said that the new Montgoris salad bar is 30% bigger than the salad bar in the Law School Cafeteria.

As for food choices, students can pick from ten different stations. These include Breads and Spreads, Ice Cream, Coffee, the Dessert Shoppe, Ignite, Create, Fresh Market, Mangia Mia, My Pantry and Hikari.

“Hikari has been a huge hit,” Lemperle said.

This station in particular allows students to choose their own stir-fry toppings, their choice of protein and then to watch as the chefs cook their meal right in front of them. Hikari offers what the new Montgoris design is all about: made-to-order food, right in front of the students.

Junior Tiana Guzman said she enjoys the Hikari station the best. “It seems more organized than making the stir-fry yourself.”

Sophomore Ashley Ehman agreed, and said it was her favorite station. “It gives students a more personalized experience, and everything is made to order. Plus, it’s really delicious.”

Other stations still offer food choices that are familiar to returning students. Angela, the Omelette Lady, now resides in the back of the main serving area, ready to make omelettes until the early afternoon. Lemperle said that this gives students a brunch option if they have class later in the day.

For students with gluten-free or special dietary needs, Lemperle said the My Pantry station is perfect for them, as it is stocked with gluten-free and healthy choices.

Students have been satisfied with the renovations overall, but have a few small complaints.

Junior Jackie Priesler said she wishes the drink station was easier to locate, but enjoys the renovations overall.

“I like how it’s more spacious, and easier to find somewhere to eat, and a lot nicer to look at than a boring buffet,” Priesler said.

Ehman said, “Overall, I think it was rather easy to navigate and find everything. The only thing I found [to be] on the annoying side was placing the condiments in the middle of the seating area. When the dining hall is crowded it becomes a maze to get what you need without hovering over someone else’s table.”

Guzman offered her opinion on the condiments and utensils being placed in the dining area.

“There should be more [utensil] stations around, instead of just one right in the middle,” Guzman said.

Ehman added that she appreciates how the University took student input seriously, but wishes there was a better showing of school pride.

“I would liked to have seen more school related pride. Maybe like pictures from school events or sports teams would be a fun change every now and then,” Ehman said.

Montgoris was built in 2000 as part of the Residence Village, according to Lemperle and Michael Gulczynski, resident district manager of dining services on campus.

Gulczynski said the dining hall has always had the same design until this year, with the exception of a cosmetic refreshment about seven years ago. This is the first major renovation since the building was built.

Gulczynski and Lemperle said that the Dining Services Advisory Committee used focus groups to gather student input and incorporate that into the new design.

“Our goal was to bring [Montgoris] to the point that it would meet the students’ needs,” Gulczynski said.

There have been changes made to the dining areas around campus the last few years, including Marillac and the Red Storm Diner, according to Gulczynski. Gulczynski said the design for Montgoris has been two years in the making, and the committee worked on the design all last year. The Montgoris renovation was the last phase of the renovation process on campus.

As for any changes in the future, Lemperle and Gulczynski said that there will be menu and food concept changes. For now, they hope students will reap the benefits of the open floor plan, destination stations and made-to-order food.


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Talia Tirella, Co-Editor-in-Chief
Co-Editor-in-Chief: Talia is a senior Journalism major/Government & Politics minor who intends to make the Torch an open organization, to expand our staff writing team and readership, and to grow the Torch as a professional organization.   [email protected]
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