Social media to determine menu for burrito joint’s replacement

 Mason Dining worked with New World Bilingual Institute to celebrate the Chinese New Year, and to help promote the opening of the Hot Spot, which first served Chinese in its rotating menu process. (Jake McLernon)

For the Chinese New Year, Burrito Del Ray is out, and an experimental menu-rotating restaurant is in.

The Hot Spot, open during weekday lunch hours, replaces the Sodexo-brand burrito location in Student Union Building I, making Taco Bell the only current location for quick Mexican food on the Fairfax campus.Its menu-style is departure from the consistent menus of grab-and-go locations on-campus, and a test of Mason Dining’s social media usage: the new dining option will serve a different type of cultural food every week as chosen by users on Mason Dining’s Facebook page.

 The Hot Spots menu will rotate based upon feedback on Mason Dining's Facebook page. (Jake McLernon)

“Students are looking for a variety of options. They don’t want to see it get monotonous and stagnate,” said Ram Nabar, Mason Dining’s resident district manager. “At the end of the day, they want a fresh rotation of menus.”

Exactly how the voting process will work is currently being decided by Mason Dining. For the first week of classes, the dining location served Chinese stir fry.

“The idea would be to have the voting done a week ahead of the menu,” Nabar said. “We can say 'Hey! This is what’s coming up!'”

Upcoming cultural menus include Caribbean, Italian and Latino food.

“We are really excited to immerse cultural aspects with the food that we do at Mason Dining,” Nabar said.

Burrito Del Ray lacked the sales to remain sustainable, according to Nabar.

“Whether [or not] people preferred Taco Bell, they weren’t touching Burrito Del Ray,” Nabar said.

Before Burrito Del Ray, the SUBI dining location was a Damon’s Express, a quick-food version of the neighboring Damon’s restaurant that occupied the current Rathskellar space.

Mason Dining promoted their newest addition to campus during the first day of classes through a special arrangement with the New World Bilingual Institute and their Dragon Dance team.

 High school students participated in a Dragon Team Monday in the Johnson Center, as part of a celebration of the Chinese New Year in conjunction with the promotion of the Hot Spot. (Jake McLernon)

The NWBI was founded in 1993 with its Dragon Dance team founded in 2007 at Mason. Dining asked the team to come to Mason on the first day of classes to help welcome students for the new year.

Monday’s team consisted primarily of students from Thomas Jefferson High School who asked for the day off to participate. Terry Wang, the president of the Institute, participated with the student team as their drummer.

“We started with high school students to give them an opportunity of cultural diversity, community service, and unity,” Wang said. “They thought it would be a lot of fun. Those students really wanted to join and have self motivation and carry on the tradition.”

Originally, the Dance was to be held outside at North Plaza, but due to the rain, it started downstairs near Dewberry Hall and ended near the Johnson Center Information Desk.

“It was a very limited space, but we managed,” Wang said.

The colors of the Dragon, red, gold and silver, all together symbolize prosperity. The red is special during the Chinese culture as it is said to ward off evil spirits.

“Everybody was excited to think they were contributing to their culture,” Wang said. 

Wang also acts as the International Educational and Cultural Consultant for President Alan Merten and Provost Peter Sterns.

The Hot Spot is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday through Friday.


C2M Executive Editor Kevin Loker contributed to this report.


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