Students, faculty dining in style at Cal State East Bay

  • November 21, 2008

New hall's buffet meals popular around campus

By Kristofer Noceda
The Daily Review
10/12/2008

Cookies, pie, mousse cake, scones and muffins. Oh, and add carrot cake to the list of desserts served at the new dining hall at Cal State East Bay.

That list will soon grow even more, said Jackie Chambers, a baker at the dining commons that opened last week on the Hayward campus. The hall is next door to the Pioneer Heights student housing complex just off Harder Road.

On Friday, Chambers polled students on what other sweet treats they would like to see offered at the center.

"So far, students would like cheesecake, lemon bars and pound cake," she said. "Pumpkin pie is also another popular one."

But campus officials are thinking beyond which will desserts satisfy students' taste buds.

Kitchen staff, who pride themselves on preparing fresh meals, are asking students about everything from their preferred breakfast to cultural favorites. A formal survey will also be sent out, campus officials said.

"We are just trying to cater to what students want," said Kyle Wiens, executive chef. "After all, we are here for them."

The new facility has 20,000 square feet of space and can accommodate 500 diners. Its design is modeled after the contemporary style of the neighboring Pioneer Heights student apartments.

Inside walls feature earth tones ranging from moss green to rust red. No traditional white plates are to be found as students fill colored dishes from more than a dozen serving stations. The wooden seats also sport cushions.

"We don't want it to feel like a cafeteria here," said Andre Terlet, residence dining director. "This is the new wave of dining."

Various meal plans are offered to students who live on campus, and cost about $1,100 per quarter.

The buffet-style dining offers a different menu each day and guest chefs are featured weekly to offer cuisines that range from Indian to Thai food.

Students interviewed Friday said they enjoy the variety at the new hall, but were more pleased with the location.

"We were kind of stranded without any food options on campus once the student union closed," said Brandon Brombacher, a senior who lives at Pioneer Heights. "The dining hall definitely helps us all out."

The new food on campus is not only attracting students. Faculty and staff have also been taking meal breaks at the new kitchen.

"It's cheap, good and has variety," said Amit Chattersee, a systems administrator for the university's information technology department.

In the buffet's opening week, Chattersee said he and other staff members had lunch at the dining hall three times.

"Before, we would all have to go down the hill and find other restaurants," he said.

Those restaurants probably would not feature sour-cream poundcake, Chambers said.

"That's my specialty," she said. "I haven't been able to make it yet, but it's coming."

The new dining commons is also open to the public. On weekdays, breakfast is served from 7 to 9:30 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 7:30 p.m. Meals are also served on weekends, with brunch from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Costs range from $5.50 to $9.50 per person.

Reach Kristofer Noceda at 510-293-2479 or knoceda@bayareanewsgroup.com.


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