New Vendors to Open in Redone Lobdell Next Week
By Marissa Vogt
Renovations of the Lobdell Food Court should be complete by next week, said Director of Campus Dining Richard D. Berlin III. Three new vendors serving Japanese, Middle Eastern, and Italian food will replace the previous food options catered by Sodexho.
In addition, other dining facilities, including Pritchett Grill and the Building 4 Cafe, will soon be reopened following renovations.
The new vendors for Lobdell were chosen after MIT reached a mutual agreement with Sodexho to begin offering the space to individual restaurants, Berlin said.
After the opening of Alpine Bagels in the Student Center, the Lobdell food court “wasn’t really competitive,” Berlin said, though MIT was impressed with the success of individual establishments such as Anna’s Taqueria. The new vendors will offer food that is “more authentic than what people were getting before,” Berlin said.
The types of cuisine and vendors were chosen based on existing partnerships with MIT and student interest as expressed in a survey last year regarding the space vacated by Arrow Street Crepes. Berlin said that they received over 1,000 responses to that survey, and could accurately represent student opinions because data were only a year old. Berlin said that based on experience with the food trucks, he expects a favorable response from students, particularly toward the falafel restaurant, which he says will offer a better quality product at a competitive price and will be on the TechCASH system.
Prices in the new food court will be “significantly lower than before,” Berlin said. In addition to the three new food locations, a seating area will be created for use after the dining room closes in the evening. At least one of the vendors plans to serve dinner until 8 p.m.
That there are also plans to add Indian food and a burger and cheese-steak area to the food court next January, Berlin said. The burger station at Alpine Bagels would subsequently be converted into a Thai food and noodle-bowl area.
Pritchett Grill reopening delayed
Renovations of the Pritchett Grill, originally scheduled to be completed by the beginning of the school year, are now expected to be finished by Oct. 14, Berlin said.
Until then, a dinner program will be offered at the Stata Center with the hope of generating student feedback that can be implemented when Pritchett reopens, he said.
The new Pritchett will operate like the other house dining halls, serving dinner from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., Sunday through Thursday. The food options will include stir fry, salad bar, rotating hot entrees, a grill station, and pizza, Berlin said.
He said that students have expressed interest in a late-night cafe run by students, and that he will be working with students in the East Campus and Senior House house governments after Pritchett reopens. Berlin said students from both houses were involved in the planning process.
Though the dining hall will target East Campus and Senior House residents, it will be available to West Campus residents and will participate in the preferred dining membership program. The dining plan will be optional to all East Campus and Senior House residents, Berlin said.
In addition to the food service area, the renovated Pritchett will include a quiet lounge space with couches and student art exhibits, “enrichment attributes that go beyond dining,” Berlin said. A conference room was part of the initial plan but will not be completed at this time because of a lack of resources.
Changes to other dining options
In addition to Lobdell, the newly-renovated Building 4 Cafe is also expected to reopen on Registration Day, Berlin said.
The new design was made by the same architecture students who worked on the Steam Cafe and is designed to improve the flow of people. In addition, the ceiling has been lifted to create a more spacious appearance.
The new color scheme is “pretty wild,” Berlin said, with bright green and magenta. “It will be interesting to see how people react to it,” he said.
Berlin said changes have also been planned for the kosher dining hall, which is being converted in a price-sensitive kosher deli. “We found the all-inclusive meal was just too expensive and students really didn’t want to spend that kind of money,” he said. The new deli will serve made-to-order kosher sandwiches.
In addition, Berlin said that the new Brain and Cognitive Sciences building will feature a cafe service when it is completed.