Changes to South 40 dining inspire caprese, milkshake madness

| Contributing Reporter

Milkshake machines and new menu items did little to appease students mourning the loss of the caprese sandwich from the Cherry Tree Cafe, but the sandwich’s return might.

Students wait in line at Cherry Tree Cafe on the South 40 to purchase cafe drinks, pastries and sandwiches. Cherry Tree had a major menu revamp this past summer, replacing several popular items as well as introducing new options, such as the weekend hot breakfast.Adam Tarshis | Student Life

Students wait in line at Cherry Tree Cafe on the South 40 to purchase cafe drinks, pastries and sandwiches. Cherry Tree had a major menu revamp this past summer, replacing several popular items as well as introducing new options, such as the weekend hot breakfast.

Cherry Tree witnessed a complete change in its selections as the fall semester began, with new sandwiches like the turkey brie & apricot mustard panini replacing old favorites like the sweet and smokey turkey sandwich. Paws & Go also adjusted some of its offerings when Dining Services added a f’real milkshake machine at the beginning of the year, which quickly surpassed sales expectations.

The machine has been out of commission frequently in its brief existence due to high sales of the milkshake cups.

“We thought 1,400, 1,500 shakes would last,” Dining Services Resident District Manager Nadeem Siddiqui said. “[In the] first three days, 850 shakes [were purchased]. These numbers were mind-boggling to us.”

Dining Services is working to restock the now-exhausted supply of shakes, and the machine should be ready again sometime this week.

Cherry Tree also now offers hot breakfast on the weekends, which is intended as a cheaper, more convenient alternative to the all-you-can-eat brunch in Bear’s Den and the a la carte brunch selections available in the Village.

“One of the things with brunchtime and all-you-can-eat is that some of the students don’t want to pay $9, but they still want a hot breakfast…so here we started with $5.40…[to] get a breakfast. So [the students have] choices,” Siddiqui said.

The loudest complaints about the Dining Services changes have come from students unhappy about the loss of the caprese sandwich, previously a favorite on campus. Sophomore David Gumins, a student member of the Dining Services Advisory Committee, expressed optimism for the sandwich’s return a few days before it reappeared on the menu over the weekend.

“The thing…is that they did change up the items, but I think I can have a nice conversation to bring it back based on the popularity because [Dining Services] really does want to do what’s best for the students…I think that they will strongly consider it,” Gumins said. “We have the best dining services in the country, and they’re constantly trying to make themselves better.”

However, sophomore Julia Winemiller noted that the reincarnated sandwich is not what it used to be.

“There was a mild outrage from all of my friends when they took away the caprese…then they brought it back, but it was on different bread when I got it, so it just wasn’t the same,” Winemiller said.

Although there has been some dissatisfaction with the new menu, students generally seem to be responding well.

“People have noticed the lack of the caprese sandwich, which was one of my favorites. It is a small tragedy, but I think a lot of the changes have been good changes,” sophomore Christian Shewmake said prior to the caprese’s return.

A large part of the menu development process depends on student feedback. Several Dining Services staff members noted that they try to gauge what students want before making changes.

“We’re constantly trying to figure out what…we need to have out there. [Dining Services] listens. They are a very responsive group, and they listen. And if something is missing, they may try and bring it back to try it again, and you may find out that…that’s what [students] want,” Paul Schimmele, Dining Services manager, said.

“There is a connection to food and emotion. We all have grown up with that,” Siddiqui added. “I grew up and I ate certain things and I was a student and I know…all of us come here because we love our students. We love to help you survive four years and have the best four years of your life, and I think food and breaking bread is a big part of connections to people. I think we pay a lot of attention to that.”

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