Student feedback leads to dining changes

St. John’s is continuing to expand its on-campus dining options this semester, with later hours, new food choices and renovations.

Gina Capetanakis, marketing director of Chartwells, said these changes have been made to serve students’ needs.

“Over the course of each semester we get feedback from the students on what they want improved,” she said. “We definitely hear loud and clear about what they want, so the changes made this summer have been for them.”

Many of these changes have been made to Montgoris Dining Hall. Capetanakis said the dining hall will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Previously, it closed at 8:30 p.m. on these days. Friday through Sunday, Montgoris will be open until 8:30 p.m.
The second level of Montgoris has also been remodeled. Some of the tables have been replaced with booths and new chairs have been added.
Last year, Chartwells began an environmental initiative to help reduce waste and energy use by going trayless Tuesdays and Thursdays. Now, Montgoris no longer offers trays.
Ken Waldhof, executive director of auxiliary services, said the remodeling is popular with students.
“I think the attitude of students before was to get seats on the ground floor and then maybe go upstairs,” he said. “But it seems now that everyone wants to check out the new seating area.”

Capetanakis said more renovations may take place in Montgoris and in Marillac Food Court “1 to 2 years down the line.”
“The facility [Marillac] is starting to show some age,” she said. “We really want to bring in some new equipment and find ways to cut down long lines.”

This school year, late night dining will be available at a new location: St. Vincent’s Hall. The dining facility is called Red Storm Diner. Late night dining started during the spring 2009 semester and had been available in Montgoris; this semester, it will only be held at the Red Storm Diner.

Capetanakis said the diner will be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday and from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. seven nights a week. The Red Storm Diner offers burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads and a variety of other entrees and appetizers.
Waldhof said Chartwells is looking to implement an option where students or faculty could place a food order in advance and then pick it up.

The new University Center-the D’Angelo Center-will also offer a variety of dining options to students when it opens later this month. A Starbucks will be located on the second floor and will be open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.

The D’Angelo Center will also feature a food court called the D’Angelo Center Food Emporium. It will feature many different dining stations, including the PiaDori Sandwich station, where Halal meat will be available. Other dining stations include a Yan Can Cook Asian cuisine station, an Italian bistro, a Chop’d salad station and an Outtakes with pre-made sandwiches, fruit cups, desserts and other snacks.

“We are trying to keep the meal options diverse,” said Capetanakis. “We don’t need another Burger King, so our goal was to offer something in each of the facilities.”
Students expressed their approval for many of the new changes.

“I think [the Red Storm Diner] is much better…[and] more appealing. I also like the patio area outside of St. Vincent’s diner,” said junior Janine Pichardo.
Freshman Xavier Shelton said, “I like the variety being offered between St. Vincent’s, Marillac, the library and Montgoris.”

Sophomore Luk Kawa also approves,: “It’s nice to have more options with the addition of the late night diner and the new University Center,” she said.
Capetanakis said that Chartwells is committed to listening to student feedback about the dining services on campus.
“All of the changes are made with the students in mind and their needs are constantly evolving,” she said. “Every year, students graduate and another crop of students come in who may have different needs to be met. So we take student feedback very seriously and we’re always looking at ways to improve dining services on campus.”