Since opening on Jan. 5, Forbes Family Café, an establishment under Residential & Dining Enterprises (R&DE) in the Huang Engineering Center, has met a generally positive yet mild reception from the Stanford community. The eatery is located in the space previously occupied by the popular Ike’s Place, whose contract expired at the end of last year, prompting student protest against the loss of the outside vendor.
According to Michael Gratz, executive director of R&DE Stanford Hospitality & Auxiliaries, a targeted advertising campaign for the café will begin mid-February alongside continued menu refinements, equipment testing and staff training.
The café self-identifies as flexitarian, intending to appeal to customers who are vegan, vegetarian or simply reducing their meat consumption. The menu features a salad bar and hot buffet and allows customers to design their meals based on their dietary preferences.
“All of our menus are based on vegetables, fruits and grains, sustainable seafood and responsibly-raised meat,” said Gratz in an email to The Daily.
Alexis Garduno ’15 said the café’s location, long hours and the fact that it accepts meal plan dollars were what initially attracted her to try the vendor. Now she frequents the café about every other day.
“The food is pretty flavorful, and I feel full,” Garduno said. “I was happy to see they have tempeh at this meal. I’m a vegetarian, so I have my dietary restrictions, which can make it hard to eat at other places sometimes.”
A recommendation she has would be clearer labeling, as it is sometimes difficult for her to determine whether a dish is vegetarian or not.
Garduno compared the entrée prices to those at Olive’s, another R&DE vendor.
Garduno brought her friend Andrew Rodriguez ’15, who is not a vegetarian and not on a meal plan, to the café for the first time.
“I don’t think I would come here for lunch every day but every now and then when it’s convenient. There isn’t a line, and it’s a little cheaper, but I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Ike’s,” Rodriguez said.
“I like how you can make your own salad,” said Sarah Techavarutama ’16, who has eaten at the café twice. “It’s pretty cheap, and it’s closer for me than other options.”
Daniel Jih M.S. ’15 agreed that convenience was a big part of why he decided to try the café.
“It’s really convenient because I spend a lot of time in Huang doing work,” Jih said. “I got tired of all the places nearby. It’s cheaper than the food truck options, and it’s really fast. I just go and scoop what I want and pay, which is nice for my sporadic schedule.”
In addition to the self-serve salad and entrée options, Forbes Family Café has grab-and-go sandwiches, sushi, beverages, desserts and snacks like protein bars.
“We continue to look for opportunities to expand our services, such as increasing the breakfast and dinner frequency, and provide students with quality- and high-value-driven meal options as we continue to build on the first two weeks of operations with exceeded sales forecast,” Gratz said.
Forbes Family Café’s hours of operation are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Cardinal Dollars are accepted all day and meal plan dining dollars are accepted after 1 p.m.
Contact Sarah Moore at smoore6 ‘at’ stanford.edu.