Students waited two extra months for the re-opening of the Marketplace, the main cafeteria on campus inside the Cornell Campus Center. The cafeteria, which was originally expected to be completely renovated in August, underwent a $3 million overhaul.
Although Rollins is enduring other renovations with the Rollins Hall and Lakeside Residential Complex construction sites, administrators decided this year was the best time to renovate the Marketplace.
“It was aggressive, I believe, but it was the best time to get it done because next summer is going to be a busy summer as well,” said Cristina Cabanilla, director of Dining Services.
Rollins will be hosting a handful of conferences next summer, so it was best to get construction out of the way now, said Cabanilla.
The Marketplace held a soft opening on Thursday, Oct. 17, and the Grand Opening was held on Tuesday, Oct. 22.
Students have reacted positively.
Alysia Rivers-Rodriguez (‘21) said, “I personally love the new design of the [Cornell] Campus Center because of all the individual seating, because I usually come and eat alone. I love … how beautiful it is and that I’m able to just sit and relax. They’re really spoiling us.”
“It was worth the wait,” said Caroline Fritsch (‘23), whose only prior experience with Rollins dining was the Rice Family Pavilion cafeteria. “It looks stunning.”
Prior to the Marketplace’s reopening, the Rice Family Pavilion (originally purposed as an events space) was transformed into a temporary cafeteria.
To help compensate, various food trucks were brought onto campus for lunch and dinner options. Café hours were also extended in Olin Library, Bush Science Center, and the Cornell Social Sciences building.
“Rice was really different, so I’m happy that we’re here now,” said Saffron Pollard (‘23). “We survived,” she added with a laugh.
Besides the design of the new Marketplace, some students are concerned about food quality.
Gianna Gronowski (‘20) said, “A concern is that it’s the same thing, just dressed nicer. There are definitely some new [food] options that people can be excited for, but the main thing is going to be seeing if they can keep it up and not fall back into some of the old food we’ve been getting.”
Although meal plan and food options have changed multiple times over the last two decades, the last renovation to the Marketplace was around 20 years ago. The idea of a structural renovation has been on the minds of Dining Services and the administration for a while now, said Cabanilla.
Carolina Ossa, marketing manager of Dining Services, said when Dining Services noticed the facility was too small to seat all of its clients, that was a reason to rebuild right away.
New food options include gluten-free waffles (along with a handful of gluten-free pastries), a soft-serve ice cream machine, and a brick pizza oven.
The debut of the brick-oven pizza was delayed during the Grand Opening because, being one of the largest new pieces of equipment, the oven took a while to heat to the required temperature.
However, once the oven is warmed up, students can expect fresh pizzas with fresh-pressed dough, as well as calzones and stromboli. Pasta dishes will also be cooked in the oven.
Addtionally, a revamped all-day breakfast bar serves cereal, bagels, oatmeal, and hot drinks such as cappuccinos, espressos, and lattes.
The new allergy-free station will now offer complete meals with protein, starch, and vegetable options.
One of the most important Marketplace revisions is a re-commitment to the vegan station.
It “is going to be [in] constant change,” said Cabanilla. “We want to make sure that the variety of protein options are there,” and that it remains exciting and does not get “stale,” she added.
Furthermore, there are now three, instead of two, beverage stations spread out across the dining room to solve previous line-congestion issues.
The dining staff has faced long hours to prepare for this transition, but Cabanilla and Ossa are very proud of them.
Cabanilla said, “The hectic part was turning it around from one day to another, leaving Rice, and the next day operating from here. So of course, there were long hours [and] a lot of movement, but the team has been exceptionally courageous, and they have put in long hours [and] worked so hard to make it happen, and we did it.”
Students can give feedback via a link on the Dining Services website. Surveys will eventually be emailed to students, but Cabanilla encourages Rollins members to begin sending requests of foods they would like to see at the stations.