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The campus eatery tour - Mark's Journal
The campus eatery tour
I've ended up going to Louie's Lunch quite a bit for lunch, since it's a short walk from the building my office is in, and everything has been affordable and ranging from decent to excellent. But since my group is responsible for marketing the on-campus dining units, I've also felt I should make the rounds and get to know some of them better.

Twice so far, I've gone to the nearby all-you-care-to-eat eatery for a Friday lunch, with a few coworkers, and have been pretty impressed. It helps that staff can sign up for a debit card system (you put funds on your staff ID card) that offers those all-you-can-stuff-your-face-with lunches for just $6.

I still suffer from the illusion that lunch is supposed to be $5, an illusion carried along in part by things like Subway's $5 footlong and "lunch specials" at pizza places, etc., but honestly, $6 is an incredible deal for unlimited food of pretty good variety and quality. Even with some of the stations closed for the summer, I'm finding I can build myself a huge salad, get pasta with multiple sauce and topping options, have some pizza, get a chicken sandwich or a burger from the grill station, pick up some Asian food or today's hot entrees, or even just have a bowl of cereal. The first time I was very good about eating a reasonable amount, and the second time I only overdid it a little. I think I could be pretty good about mostly having a huge salad followed by a small array of other things, and not overeat too often. Also, I admit this might become a much less appealing option once all the students are back and the place is packed even at my later-than-usual lunchtime (typically 1ish or a little later).

But it felt especially affordable compared to today's outing. I wanted to try the convenience store and grill in the same building, and by coincidence, ran into the Dining director on the way over. She handed me a couple of $5-off coupons, so I splurged a little. Well, the "burger of the week" plus fries and a fountain drink ended up north of $10! Good thing I had that coupon. It was a good lunch, but it was not by any stretch of the imagination a good deal. I'm sure I'd also spend north of $10 on a similar combination at Five Guys or Ithaca Ale House, but I'd also be getting more (and better) for my money.

The director spotted me later and asked how it was, and I told her it was delicious (and thanked her), but I understood why they weren't seeing great sales in those retail units: you can spend a lot for the convenience of being able to take your food to go, which of course you can't do at the all-you-can-eat units. Of course, students are charged more than $6 per lunch (I think), but for those who don't have a meal plan, these retail operations need to seem like a decent deal. I suggested they could try combo deals, which the place near my former office did sometimes. She seemed to appreciate the feedback.

I've got one more coupon to try another retail eatery on campus; I'll try one I've never been to, or at least haven't been to in years. Too easy to go to the ones that are familiar from my years in CIT.
3 comments or Leave a comment
acappellasinger From: acappellasinger Date: August 1st, 2012 02:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Once the academic year kicks in, RPME goes to dinners-only on weekdays. North Star and Risley will be open for lunch. I almost always prefer Risley because it's more comfortable, generally less crowded, and has a pretty good variety (especially considering its size). Made-to-order stir fry, pasta with a couple of sauces, a couple of varieties of pizza, salad bar, and a good selection of made-to-order sandwiches, eggs and grill items are available daily (but nothing deep fried because they no longer have a deep fryer, so no fries). They also have a couple of hot entrees, at least one of which is vegetarian, and hot sides. It's really the best-kept secret on that side of campus. It's also good to know that North Star serves a limited lunch from 2 - 4 (after Risley closes) in case you ever end up needing lunch later than normal.

I totally agree with you about the place you ate today. I almost always feel like I've overspent and been undernourished there. The best deal is their personal pizza, which runs about $5 with 3 toppings, but you need to allow at least 15 - 20 minutes to get your order (I've had them take upwards of 40 minutes at times, and like you I tend to eat at non-peak hours). I pretty much only go there when I've got no other options or when I'm craving a grilled hot dog (not a great value, but probably the best I've had on campus). I should really remember the North Star late lunch thing; it's usually available those days.
fabunobo From: fabunobo Date: August 1st, 2012 10:34 am (UTC) (Link)
I second the Risley vote.
From: deithaca Date: August 15th, 2012 08:21 pm (UTC) (Link)

Bear Necessities!

You really ought to try the french fries (for some reason they're "potato wedges" on the order sheets). If they haven't changed, they cut them themselves. Only the new "On the Street" Greek place on Fulton street has fries in the same league!
3 comments or Leave a comment