Grotto Commons changes not as mind-blowing as they seem

Mathew Jury, Staff Writer

This past summer, the school carried out a $3 million remodeling of Egan Dining Hall, with its grand opening on Aug. 20. Upon viewing the new Grotto Commons Dining Hall, many upperclassmen were shocked at how things had changed. There are now more places to serve food and they are more spread out. Additionally, there are more electrical outlets for our electronic needs.

To say that reception has been mixed is an understatement. One thing that we have praised is the expanded allergy-friendly section, Clean Dish. Before this year, the allergy-friendly section was a table with a few warm foods, gluten free cereal, lactose- free dairy products and other allergy-friendly snacks.

The actual design has been viewed with criticism from several of my peers, with complaints ranging from the seating arrangements to the locations of everything. I honestly cannot see what there is to complain about with the new layout. I like how everything is spread out and expanded upon so that we, theoretically, should not have to worry about long, confusing clusters of lines like when everything was together before.

People have also complained about the random piece of lime green wall that does not match the rest of the facility. Frankly, I feel colors are the least of a dining facility’s concerns. Overall, I feel the new layout and design is a great service to us and if I had to rank it on a five-star scale,with five being perfect, I would have to give it a 4.5.

However, the point of dining services is to feed the students and with the tuition we are paying to go here, we would expect the food in the new state-of-the-art dining hall to be top notch in quality. That falls flat here.

The food is not much better than before. In the few times I have been there, none of the food looked extraordinarily appetizing. Like before, the chances of being served undercooked meats are still too high. The ice cream bar has also been halved from last year, leaving us only with chocolate, vanilla, and any two flavors that will likely run out shortly after being served.

Previously, many of us found that if nothing looked good, pizza would satisfy since it was always offered from lunch to close. In the few times I have gone this year, only one of those times was there pizza, lending toward my biggest complaint.

In the past, picky eaters could always rely on pizza. Does Parkhurst not care about some of us anymore? I know many people who would come to Egan only for pizza. With that gone, why should they come now?
Now the reason why I have not been frequenting the Grotto Commons is also the straw that broke the camel’s back. This year, I have decided to switch from a Board Plan to the Laker Dining Club with a straight 1000 Dining Dollars per semester, plus 20 percent student discount.

I mistakenly presumed that a meal at the Grotto Commons would not exceed $6.50, the cost of a typical meal at the Laker last year. I was mortified when I went to grab dinner at the grand opening and was charged $11 (before discount) for what turned out to be a very lackluster menu. Overall, I would have to give the food a two out of five.

According to an interview with a Parkhurst employee, the breakfast price remains unchanged from last year at $6.75. However, lunch and dinner were previously $8.75 and $10.25, respectively, with lunch being raised to $9.50 and dinner being increased to $11.00. I will be first to admit that I should have done my research beforehand since being on a Board plan previously only charged me one Board per entry.

With a greatly improved interior to the dining hall, I expect improved food. I feel the remodeling of the dining hall was a step in the right direction as stated by my colleagues in the Sept. 14 issue of the Merciad. I understand the need to raise prices with the renovations. However, the food’s quality should reflect this rise in prices, or at the very least, for pizza to be available like before. Otherwise, you won’t see me much outside of Sunday brunch, which has been the only consistently good meal this year. That would be too bad, since I know most of our employees work hard to support us through food service.