Arrillaga Family Dining Commons’ crowding issues have subsided considerably since the new dining facility opened this fall. Smaller crowds came after a plea Stanford Dining made in October that students who are not residents of Toyon or Crothers eat elsewhere.
“Recently, we have started to see students eating in their home dining halls,” Administrative Program Manager of Stanford Dining Cynthia Liu wrote in an email to The Daily. “We are monitoring and reviewing transactions to determine student dining patterns.”
Arrillaga was initially overwhelmed by the sheer number of students eating there, despite a greater-than-average seating capacity that was intended to accommodate an influx as students opted to try the new venue. The 675 seats in Arrillaga Family Dining Commons exceed the over-530 associated residents of Crothers Hall and Toyon Hall.
“Although we expected students would be thrilled to eat in the new dining hall, the overwhelming volume of enthusiastic responses amazed us,” Liu said.
Students have become less enthusiastic about Arrillaga as the quarter wears on, citing its novelty as the source of its popularity among students.
“I was definitely surprised about how popular it became, especially among my residents who really didn’t have anything to compare it to,” Larkin Resident Assistant Carlo Pasco ’13 wrote in an email to The Daily. “They would say how much better it is than Stern [dining], when Stern’s food has stepped up.”
Henry Patterson ’15, a Wilbur resident, said that crowding has served to counteract Arrillaga’s initial popularity.
“It’s overrated,” Patterson said. “I mean, it’s good; but it’s not that great. It’s also too crowded.”
Pasco said he has noticed many of his freshman residents eschewing Arrillaga for dining options closer to home, suggesting that students are no longer favoring the newer dining hall.
“I’ve been so touched to see Stern filled with Larkinites, especially after the first two or three weeks, when I would eat with maybe four other people,” he said. “They’re slowly coming back.”
In early October, Stanford Dining mounted a campaign to drive students back to their own dining halls, as announced by ASSU President Michael Cruz ’12 during an Oct. 11 meeting of the ASSU Senate.
Arrillaga Dining, the first dining hall to be built on campus in nearly 20 years, is unique among campus dining halls in that it serves food to students on the meal plan outside of the traditional meal hours, which can be advantageous to athletes and students who take classes during normal meal times.
“We will be offering continuous meal service as part of a pilot program at Arrillaga Family Dining Commons on weekdays, serving meals between breakfast and lunch, and lunch and dinner,” Liu said. “This will allow students who are not able to make the traditional meal times due to class schedules, etc., the ability to eat a full meal.”
Arrillaga is also the host of the Performance Dining Initiative, which serves food in six categories: enhanced immunity, anti-inflammatory components, food synergy, brain performance, sports performance and antioxidants.
Liu emphasized that every dining hall has unique features analogous to Arrillaga’s Performance Dining Initiative, which has been promoted by Stanford Dining for its “synergistic food and nutrient combinations and performance themes” that “help students perform at their mental and physical peak.” Stern hosts Stanford Dining’s collaboration with Mark Miller of Coyote Cafe, while Wilbur and Lakeside Latenite both feature menu items associate with the Star Ginger@Stanford Vietnamese and Thai program. Manzanita Dining has a new chef this year and Lakeside Dining is displaying student art in collaboration with the Stanford University Arts Initiative.
“All the dining halls share a rotating menu, supplemented by characteristics and concepts that highlight each dining hall’s unique characteristics,” Liu said.