Campus Dining Then & Now

words by Jeanna Goodrich Balreira
photos by Anh-Viet Dinh and Josh Huskin

Ah, college students. Smart. Creative. Ambitious. Hungry.

For generations, Tigers have dined together in Mabee Dining Hall between classes, after practices, and before exams. Memories made in Mabee have woven their way into commencement speeches and autobiographies, as students have gathered year after year to celebrate their most common bond: food.

Mabee Dining Hall is now an all-you-care-to-eat facility serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, with an attached Provisions on Demand convenience store and grill. After conducting on-campus surveys and researching other university models, Trinity’s dining services adopted this approach to not only help students save money, but to also provide more options.

“Mabee had pretty much been in the same format since 1984, so we knew it was time to do something,” says Miguel Ardid, Trinity’s dining services director. The dining hall switched from the a la carte format in 2011, and over the past five years, Ardid has expanded Mabee’s services to add more vegetarian and gluten-free options, a build-your-own-pasta line, and themed dining nights throughout the semester.

“We have such a diverse group of students here, from different family and food cultures. We talk to the students to see what kinds of food they may want as part of a themed dining night, such as Vietnamese, Indian, or Chinese,” says Rachel Hernandez, marketing specialist for Aramark on Trinity’s campus. As part of a recent Chinese theme night, the dining services team created an authentic Chinese menu, down to a roasted suckling pig.

“The more students talk with friends about their countries’ foods, the more fascinating theme nights become,” Hernandez says.

Changes have also climbed Cardiac Hill to the Coates University Center. Gone are the days of “Coates Pizza” delivery to the dorm rooms: The Commons now features Einstein’s Bagels, Freshii, and Taco Taco Cafe—yes, that Taco Taco, bringing the No. 1 tacos in America straight to Trinity’s campus.

Recently remodeled, the Skyline Bistro continues to serve lunch for faculty, staff, and students who enjoy a downtown view. With a chef-curated menu and sandwiches named after faculty members (try the Reuben Dupertuis or the Richard Burr-ger), Skyline has become an increasingly popular place for many across campus. Can’t make it for lunch? Stop by Skyline on the first Saturday night of every month for KRTU’s “Skyline Swing” featuring the world-famous Jim Cullum Jazz Band.

Every other night of the week, Java City Cafe is open for business, serving ecoGrounds coffee, smoothies, and late-night-study snacks. Nestled in a corner by the Coates Library entrance, Java City remains the go-to destination to relax or recharge.

One thing that won’t change? The incredible hospitality with which the dining services staff continues to greet students, faculty, and staff each and every day. Aramark has been a part of Trinity’s campus since 1972, and its staff continues to inspire memories for Tigers. “We’re basically in the people business,” Ardid says. “We have people in the kitchen who have been here close to 40 years.”

“We’ve had students tell us that they were having a bad day, but when they walked into Mabee Dining Hall, an employee turned it around for them.” Hernandez adds. “Our warm, open environment keeps students coming back. Food is definitely something special on the Trinity campus.”