Dining Service Changes
Dining Services closed Etta’s Micro-Mart, the self-service food market in Steinberg Hall, on Wednesday, August 17, for an unspecified amount of time. A Farmer’s Fridge vending machine is now available in the same space at all hours.
The decision was announced in an email sent out to students of the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts; the announcement was also made public by a flier that hangs in the market’s entryway, alerting students and workers of the change and apologizing for “the inconvenience.” Soon after, most dining options disappeared from Etta’s Micro-Mart.
With limited on-campus dining options after 10:00 p.m., especially on the East End, where most Sam Fox and McKelvey School of Engineering classes occur, many students feel worried about Etta’s closing.
The decision to close Etta’s is temporary and will allow Dining Services to have time to improve the market’s service and offerings, Andrew Watling, the Associate Director of Dining Operations, and Barbara Kempken, the Campus Director of Dining Operations for Bon Appetit, said.
“None of us at the University were particularly happy with the quality of the products or the service that we were able to get in that space,” Watling said. “We decided to close [Etta’s] down and [work] in a way that we can bring in new pieces of equipment or technology in food service as they are available to us.”
Dining Services said that the Farmer’s Fridge vending machine provides higher quality options than the former mini-mart.
“They do a lot of salads, grain bowls, and yogurt parfaits,” said Watling about Farmer’s Fridge. “[The products] come fresh to the vending machine…a lot of them are supposed to be cold…but they do have a number of them that are supposed to be reheatable.”
Aside from Etta’s Micromart, two other dining locations on Danforth Campus have changed significantly since last semester. Ibby’s, the Danforth University Center’s upscale restaurant, brought back its dine-in operations on Tuesday, August 30.
“We are doing the lunch and dinner service again,” said Kempken. “We reworked the menu, keeping the favorites like the gnocchi and the [bananas Foster] sundae.”
Ibby’s has a new front-of-the-house manager who will bring back the beer and wine program. Additionally, the new Dining Services marketing team plans to host events like Oktoberfest at Ibby’s later in the semester.
Ibby’s return to form is exciting for WashU students, many of whom have never experienced the restaurant in its pre-COVID glory. Alumna Garima Jajoo ‘19 recalls Ibby’s as a convenient dinner venue and a special place for celebrations for her and her peers.
“I’ve done tons of birthday dinners at Ibby’s,” Jajoo said. “It’s a convenient dining experience because you don’t have to go off campus or spend real money, but you still get a nice dinner. It’s very unique to WashU.”
Jajoo also suggests that students look out for the tasty dessert specials at Ibby’s.
“I think the biggest thing to look forward to at Ibby’s is the desserts…they are so good,” she said.
Grounds for Change café in Hillman Hall reopened as Coffeestamp, a St. Louis-based roastery owned by brothers Patrick and Spencer Clapp, on Monday, August 29. The University previously worked with Coffeestamp for last year’s Hispanic Heritage Month, and the collaboration was very successful.
“[Patrick]’s products were really well received. We love him and his brother…they have a really great story and partnership, so that was one of the reasons why [Dining Services] approached them to see if they would want to occupy space on campus,” said Kempken.
Coffeestamp also sells empanadas, setting it apart from the many other cafés on the Danforth Campus.
As the school year ramps up, students and staff can expect to see more positive changes to the dining options on campus.
“We’re really excited to get things back up and running, and fully operational,” said Watling.