Vanderbilt Campus Dining is launching a new dining program, offering a redesigned menu, new dining concepts and newly-sourced ingredients for the spring semester.
Under the leadership of Executive Chef Jordan Rogers and Registered Dietitian Emily Suttle, Campus Dining’s culinary team will bring back old favorites like the Randwich and pho, plus new concepts like Bao!, Smokehouse, Crafted Flatbreads and Toasted—a take on customizable avocado toast. A complete list of the semester’s offerings can be found under Campus Dining’s Spring 2021 Dining Options.
Line speed and social distancing requirements were major reasons for reducing customizable options in the fall, per Sean Carroll, Director of Marketing and Communications. Thus, many of Campus Dining’s new offerings will be available for pre-order on the GET Mobile app, accessible on iOS and Android.
By pre-ordering, students can skip the line at various made-to-order stations and pick up their meals at express GET stations, listed under Campus Dining’s GET App Options Spring 2021. This structure will serve as an updated version of Rand Express from the fall semester.
“We’ve tweaked the format and are launching Zeppos Express, EBI Express, Kissam Express and Commons Express, in addition to the all-new Rand Express,” Carroll said. “Unlike last semester, with a rotating daily offering, our menu options will be available every weekday—with different brunch and dinner offerings on the weekends.”
Taste of Nashville
The Taste of Nashville popup concept—through which dining halls rotated weekly offerings from a partner restaurant—will no longer be a daily offering and will instead appear periodically as a special event, per Carroll.
Carroll said that its partners have remained largely the same as the previous semester, but it is excited to add two restaurants: The Slider House and The Row Kitchen & Pub.
“We’re proud to have significantly increased the number of fresh-prepared options in our dining halls, and as a result, will focus less on Taste of Nashville restaurants to supplement our on-campus offerings,” Carroll said.
Carroll said that the new changes come in response to student feedback in emails, social media messages and responses to Campus Dining’s Instagram survey during the fall semester, which overwhelmingly called for more options in dining halls and greater variety in menu choices.
“Fall 2020 was challenging for all of us, and operating a full-service dining operation in the midst of a public health crisis was no exception,” Carroll said. “We learned many lessons from the previous semester, including what worked well, and what needed to be tweaked.”
According to Carroll, both Munchie Mart snacks and meals will still be available exclusively on the GET Mobile app, but the interface has been updated to ease student navigation. Changes for all Munchie Marts include a number of new market basket meal options, including a selection of organic frozen berries and a refreshed lineup of grab-and-go meal options.
Carroll said that the grab-and-go meal options will include entrée plates, bowls, salads and handhelds handcrafted by Vanderbilt Catering & Events. The meals will be available for pre-order at any Munchie Mart.
The Campus Dining Instagram will continue to release further details about the offerings, but Carroll said that some options came directly from student feedback, as voted on during the Menu Maker Taste Test event held in November.
Regarding PickupSpots, which were designed to reduce density in dining halls and allow for convenient meal access, only the lunch location at the Blair School of Music will be available. The scaleback is due to low utilization in other locations during the fall semester, according to Carroll.
During the university’s Spring Return to Campus Town Hall, Vice Chancellor for Administration Eric Kopstain said that the dining tents will also undergo changes. There will now be five dining tents—with a new location on Alumni Lawn and one adjacent to the Commons Center—all of which will be heated by an underground hot water circulation system. The tents will later be configured to accommodate fitness programs as well.
During the Commodores Care period from Jan. 25 to Feb. 3, Carroll said that the two new dining tents will be open with reduced capacity, and further information will be communicated via the Return to Campus website. There have been no plans to require registration or a time limit to stay in a dining tent.
Following the Commodores Care period, Carroll said that Campus Dining anticipates expanding the indoor dining system that was piloted in November, opening more locations where students can scan a QR code to register for a 30-minute dining session. Seating will be made available on a first-come, first-serve basis, and instructions will be clearly posted in each seating area, per Carroll. Carroll expressed his pride as part of the Campus Dining team and their steadfast goal to drive the dining program forward.
“Despite a challenging academic year for all of us, Campus Dining is firmly committed to offering a world-class dining experience that supports a diverse student population,” Carroll said.