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New student menu: crepes, designer bagels

Let them eat crepes. Or designer bagels.

Those are two fresh options in the revamped dining plan for 2002-03, which features many new eating establishments and two new dining vendors. For residence halls, a complete renovation is under way at Next House, and the new Simmons Hall will have its own dining hall as well. Expect to see changes in the Lobdell Food Court, Walker Memorial and the satellite locations around the campus in the fall.

Aramark, the current vendor for all locations, will continue to operate the Faculty Club, the variety store Refresher Course at the Sloan School of Management and MIT Catering.

Campus dining options have been a sensitive matter among students for years. Last October, Chancellor Phillip L. Clay announced a 45-day "open discussion" that he hoped would lead to a new plan. Eight students joined faculty and administrators on the Campus Dining Board in the fall and played an active role in the selection process. Students also participated in vendor interviews and reviewed proposed menus.

"I believe the students will be pleasantly surprised" by the quality of food served by the new vendors, said Richard D. Berlin, director of campus dining. With wider options, Berlin said he expected students "to speak with their wallets."


Intended for Toscanini's space is Arrow Street Crepes. Toscanini's, a fixture in the Stratton Student Center since 1987, is discontinuing its direct operations at MIT, but its ice cream and coffee will still be available. Emphasizing health and freshness, Arrow Street will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner crepes as well as dessert crepes. There will be a special Sunday brunch menu. It will be open from 8 a.m. to midnight Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to midnight on Sunday.

The Alpine Bagel Co. replaces Courses. Hot bagels and a variety of cream cheese spreads and deli fixings are its signature items. It also offers specialty salads, sandwiches and hamburgers. Specialty bagels may include pineapple and coconut wild roasted sunflower, honey granola and oats, cranberry and strawberry. Soups, salads and specialty coffee drinks also will be available. The hours will be from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sundays.

A caf� is also planned for the northeast corner of Lobby 7.

Arrow Street, Alpine Bagel and LaVerde's Market will accept the MIT card for payment. Renovations for Arrow Street and Alpine Bagel will begin shortly after Commencement, when Toscanini's and Courses shut down.

Lobdell, Walker and the satellites will be run by Sodexho, a French company that claims to be the largest food contractor in the world. The fare will include salads and tortilla wraps made to order, pizzas, calzones, sandwiches, pasta, corn and flour tacos, soups, Asian food and stir-fries.

Berlin expects the Sodexho menus to evolve over time to accommodate MIT palates. "Mexican food might have a broader menu," he said. "Everything will be basically different."

Bon Appetit, a San Francisco-based firm, will service residential dining, which includes the new Simmons Hall, the renovated and expanded 270-seat area at Next House, Baker House and the MacGregor Convenience Store. The company promises to create all dishes from scratch using fresh ingredients prepared by an executive chef. Menus will change daily.

"Basically, the menus will be created with the students," Berlin said. "They will add and subtract dishes to create a menu to the students' liking."

Bon Appetit and Sodexho "are both big players," he said. "We were very deliberate in limiting the bidding to food companies that can handle a community of this size. With the addition of these large companies and smaller independent merchants, competition is the cornerstone of our program and the MIT community the beneficiary of that competition."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 5, 2002.

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