Students Excited About Southside Dining Options

By Mason Student Nick Walker

Back in the corner of the now-closed Ciao Hall, roommates Brittany Graves and Rebecca Kagan could be found eating their lunch a few weeks ago. As freshmen living on campus, the two are on meal plans – and thus dependent upon Mason’s current food options.

Though Graves, a nursing major, and Kagan, majoring in biology, are fairly pleased with Ciao’s food options, not everyone at Mason shares their optimism.

“I am so fed up with Ciao Hall right now,” said Peter Schoebel, Mason’s Executive Chef. “Everyday, something else breaks and we have to file another maintenance request. I can’t wait to shut it down.”

Some students agree. An article in last year’s Broadside included quotes from students who found Mason’s food unhealthy and unavailble on the weekends. For Schoebel and these students, next month’s opening of Southside Dining will provide a welcome respite from Mason’s current food options.

Southside will feed approximately 5,000 students and faculty every day, with a variety of options for food.

“There are six different stations you can go to,” explains Schoebel, who first came to Mason in February. “My personal favorite is ‘Without Boundaries,’ which will serve food from a different part of the world every day. One day you might get Chinese food, the next it could be Mediterranean, and so on.”

Southside will feature state-of-the-art facilities, including a $20,000 mixer for creating pizza dough and several 300 sq. ft. freezers and refrigerators. This will allow Sodexo services, Mason’s contracted catering service, to create almost all of the food onsite.

“For people in a hurry, you can go straight to the Gold Rush, which will be a take out facility,” explains Schoebel. “There’s also the 4400 Grill, which will have a grill on one side and a gridle on the other. With the gridle, we will have a rotating ‘pancake of the day,’ so one day it may be strawberry, the next chocolate chip, then banana, etc.”

Other options include:

  • Changing Colors, a salad bar with seasonal vegetables;
  • Pastamoré, specializing in (what else?) pasta;
  • Wrapped Up, the sandwich bar;
  • After All, the desert and ice cream counter
  • In case none of those suit your needs, there will also be a waffle machine open all day.

    Environmentalists will appreciate the new additions at Southside, too. Trays are gone, which will reduce water usage by approximately 200 gallons per hour, according to Schoebel. Also, according to a recent article in Time Magazine, getting rid of trays will help to reduce food waste.

    For food that isn’t eaten, Southside also includes an advanced pulper/extractor to separate water and solid food wastes. The remaining product is then sealed in biodegradable bags and composted in Maryland.

    “It’s about time,” says Mason Alum Nikki Oteyza, in response to Sodexo’s greening efforts. Oteyza is a 2008 graduate of New Century College with a concentration in Conservation Studies.

    “I was thinking about the way they have changed the condiments to be in the dispensers rather than the packets in the Johnson Center, it definitely makes a difference, says Oteyza, who now works for Mason’s Center for Field Studies. “I think Mason should also phase out styrofoam as well, as a lot of carryout places are still using it.”

    Oteyza may be in luck.

    At Southside, if you order your food to go, it gets enclosed in a biodegradable container made of sugar cane, potatoes, and corn – and biodegrades within 60 days.

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