Summer Dining Services Changes Completed

The Wildcat Den is exclusively an all-you-care-to-eat venue, a new Café Libri is open in the NMU Bookstore, the Marketplace was renovated to facilitate trayless dining and the JXJ Java Cart will provide a food service presence in the main classroom facility on campus. It has been a hectic summer of change for Dining Services.

When the Wildcat Den offered both à la carte and all-you-care-to-eat options, it was difficult to monitor which customers were dining under which plan. Revenues coming in did not keep pace with the amount of food going out, so a decision was made to serve only all-you-care-to-eat customers.

“We wanted students from West and Spooner Halls to have that option nearby where they could still take advantage of Constant Pass meal plans or use their Dining Dollars or Cat Ca$h,” said Greg Minner (Dining Services). “We also accept Campus Cuisine [multiple meal plans purchased by many NMU employees] and cash.

"We will add some action stations at the Den such as Cheeseburgers in Paradise and Walking Tacos (a portable plastic container instead of a shell to hold tortilla chips, meat, sauce and select fixings). One of our AQIP goals is to use more Michigan products, so we're planning a Michigan Applefest both here and at the Marketplace. The menus will be different at the two facilities so students will have more options."

Renovations at the Wildcat Den included closing off the previous entrance with exit-only doors on one side and a new wall on the other and relocating the entrance—along with the register—directly across from the financial trading lab (pictured above). Minner said the Den will go trayless, too. First he needs to work with the company that made the conveyor belt, where diners place dirty dishes, so it can accommodate plates instead of trays.

The new Café Libri (right) fills the à la carte void in the University Center. Located in the NMU Bookstore, it serves Stone Creek coffee, pastries, sandwiches, salads and daily hot breakfast and lunch entrees, with both in-store and atrium seating.

Similar cash-and-carry items, minus the hot entrees, will be available at the JXJ Java Cart on the second floor of Jamrich Hall. Minner said it will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and is geared toward à la carte customers and commuter students. The hope is that it will also relieve occasional congestion at Starbucks in the Learning Resources Center.

The first phase of a multi-year remodeling project at the Marketplace also was completed this summer. Work included replacing the two entrances on opposite sides of the dining room with a single, central entrance with two cashier stations, moving drink stations into the dining room (pictured below), upgrading the freight elevator and making improvements to the loading dock area.

The move to trayless dining was motivated in part by a test and survey conducted last fall by the Dining Services Go Green Committee.

"For a full week in October we weighed all of the food waste generated at the Marketplace," Minner said. "Then we took away trays on a different week and weighed again. We didn't tell the students because we didn't want that to sway the results. There was 924 more pounds of waste with the trays, even though we fed 1,673 more people during the trayless week. We put the results on posters and surveyed students to see if they would support a trayless initiative. Fifty-one percent said yes. We've seen the positive impact at other universities in terms of reduced waste and water usage for washing dishes and we would like those same benefits here."

Dining Services is offering reduced prices on Campus Cuisine plans through Sept. 3. The more you buy up front, the more you save. A 10-meal pack is $67, or $6.70 per meal. The 25-meal pack is $157, or $6.28. And the cost for 50 meals is $292, or $5.84. Regular prices for breakfast, lunch and dinner are $5.95, $7.95 and $8.50, respectively. For more information, visit Campus Cuisine.


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Updated: August 18, 2010

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