By: Ben Salom
Until the academic year of 2017, Goucher College’s on-campus dining options were somewhat sprawling for such a small school. There was the primary Stimson Dining Hall, a smaller secondary dining hall in Heubeck Hall, a retail style food store in the Pearlstone Student Center, and Alice’s cafe in the Athenaeum. However, the Heubeck Hall area has become the new retail area, as Pearlstone Student Center is renovated and revamped into a new, improved dining facility. College administration has indicated that within two years, the new Pearlstone dining hall will streamline the campus dining experience, with increased options available in less space.
The Goucher Eye spoke with Norman Zwagil, Resident District Manager for Bon Appétit catering, who shared some of the current plans for how the dining facility will be set up. Zwagil said that Pearlstone will be both the primary dining hall, and also contain the á la carte restaurant, a service currently found in Heubeck Hall. Mr. Zwagil said, “What has always been referred to as Pearlstone, or now Heubeck, will be on one floor [of Pearlstone], and what’s now Stimson will be on the other floor.”
Additionally, new food stations are planned to provide more choices and accommodate students with specific dietary needs. While specific food stations are still to be determined, the current plan calls for a kosher food area, and an allergen-free food station. Currently, Kosher food for students on the kosher meal plan is produced in a small kitchen in the Hillel space directly adjacent to the primary dining hall in Stimson Hall. The current plan for the future is to phase out the separate kosher meal plan option entirely. Kosher food will be being prepared in one section of the main dining facility, and anyone can take food from it, regardless of dietary restrictions.
Lynne Lochte, vice president for finance and administration, says that many details relating to the new school dining experience are yet to be determined. For instance, they have not yet decided on the areas name. It might stay Pearlstone, or be named something different. That decision will probably not be made for several more months.
Also, with a transformed food landscape, with new kinds of food and different places to acquire it may warrant a modification of the current meal plan package options. To that end, school administration is working with Bon Appétit to survey students to see what choices would be most popular. Ms. Lochte said, “Once we get the results of that survey, we’ll have a better sense of what options they’re interested in. There’s the option that we don’t need to make changes; that we just move it over. The idea that this is a good time, since we’re moving to a new venue, to explore other options.”
Exactly when the new dining hall opens is not set in stone. Lochte said that the school administration will provide more concrete information when it can. She said, “Since it’s a long term project we have expected dates at this point, but when we gets closer, we’ll be able to communicate better about when exactly the opening date will be, which will be sometime next year.”