Because the kitchen is on the lower level, each micro-restaurant and the retail café have walk-in cooler or freezer support and production equipment. The salad bar has reach-in refrigeration support.
Aesthetically, each restaurant has a distinctive appearance, including unique finishes and graphics that define their identity.
Unique to the East Quad, 24 Carrots features full production of a varied vegan and vegetarian menu. A flexible and functional equipment package, including a charbroiler, induction cookers, a wok, deck oven, combi oven, kettle and steamer allow for versatility. Menu items include vegetable risotto, pho, and stir-fries with tofu and tempeh, spinach pie, casseroles, stews and quesadillas.
"There's no question that vegetarian cuisine is growing in popularity on college campuses," Turchan adds. "We'll continue to offer more variety in all our current and future facilities.This area has its own dishwasher in order to avoid cross-contamination with nonvegetarian products."
We can switch out the flat-level induction cookers with the wok, depending on our menu. "When we're not using the equipment it goes underneath a counter."
This restaurant also contains a cold top with ingredients for various dishes and a hot serving area that can hold two to three dishes for a short while before customers pick them up.
The message of fresh also stands out at the salad station where customers can choose from 3 greens, up to 40 toppings, 9 salad dressings and vinegars and oils. Two wells hold two soup varieties. "Carefully detailed millwork allows for the display of art and also for the storage of well-concealed plateware for several venues," Pearson says. Photographs near this area were taken by students visiting local farms.
Signature Creative Cuisine is the chef's station featuring international menu items. Staff use three wok ranges to make vegetarian and meat stir-fries, a charbroiler and griddle to prepare chicken, fish and meats such as pork chops and grilled beef, a steamer for vegetables as well as two fryers and a dump station for egg rolls and spring rolls. A salamander and tabletop tilt kettle also support production here.
Also at this station, two sets of burners with refrigerated tops behind them support staff as they prepare omelets and other egg dishes for breakfast as well as made-to-order pastas for lunch. "I find this equipment to be extremely versatile," says Turchan. "The high heat allows us to make high-quality soups, egg dishes and pasta with very good results." A large walk-in cooler supports this restaurant.
The made-to-order theme also applies at Church Street Deli. Culinary staff use a slicer, panini press and quick-speed conveyor oven to prepare menu items. A food shield covers sandwich items so customers can see the ingredients and make their selections. A frost top holds premade sandwiches.
At Wild Fire, staff cook burgers, salmon and meats on a char grill, warm vegetables on a flattop grill and heat fries, onion rings and fried okra in fryers. Refrigerated drawers underneath this equipment hold ingredients. Reach-in freezers also contain ingredients to support production. A hot top keeps dishes warm and a cold top keeps chilled salads at proper serving temperatures. Another cold top holds Mediterranean items such as olives, humus, tabbouleh and other accompaniments.
Pizziti's features a cold-top pizza make-up table for whole-wheat pie crusts topped with cheese, sauce and other ingredients before staff heat them in a triple-stack conveyor oven. Approximately 70 to 80 pies baked daily are cut into 16 slices and displayed on heated stands.
Customers with a sweet tooth visit Finale, a dessert area that contains a fruit-cutting station, cookie ovens and a fresh juice machine. A frost top holds pies, puddings, cakes and fresh fruit. Customers also help themselves to ice cream produced in an upright soft-serve machine.
Customers who enjoy comfort foods find intriguing variety at Farmer's Table, where a chalkboard lists farmers whose products are featured here. Staff use a slicer to cut meats and cheese, a double-stacked convection oven to heat meats, a steamer to warm vegetables and rice, a small pasta cooker to prepare mac and cheese and a flattop to cook vegetables. A rotisserie oven slow-cooks whole meats, vegetables and potatoes. Staff carve items to order. Another walk-in cooler here supports the station.
With the exception of containers for takeout, the restaurants present food on china. "We're getting away from stereotypical cafeteria food, so china works best for us," Turchan says. "If we want to compete against operations outside campus, we must present food in an upscale way. Our china is durable, holds heat and rarely chips."
Another section of the servery features breakfast items all day. Equipment includes undercounter refrigerators, shelving for cereal boxes, displays for bagels, a conveyor toaster, waffle makers, wells for toppings and dispensers for milk, coffee, tea and soda.
One of the most versatile prep areas is at Java Blue Café, an emporium open until midnight that features coffee drinks and coffee makers, gelato in a case, pizza, and open-air merchandisers for sandwiches and wraps. "The retail café entrance is off of the main lobby to the building, near the theater," Milius says. "The service and support area was strategically connected to the grill and the deli concepts in order to provide expanded menu support during late-night service."
A dishwashing room on the main level accommodates trayless dining; the main level also contains a potwashing area. On the lower level a dishwasher and pot washing area, located near the elevator, handle pans that are returned to the kitchen. Also on the lower level directly below the dishroom are a scrapping table, pulper and extractor.
The new East Quad operation is proving to be popular. "Student satisfaction, as measured by the National Association of College and University Food Services benchmark survey, showed a 15 percent increase in satisfaction, leading to a 12 percent increase in voluntary meal plan sales and continuing interest in on-campus living," Siegel says.
Popularity is welcome, but due to the size of the facility, during the operation's first year, one of the most difficult challenges was accommodating the large numbers of customers. "We allocated space for a private dining room which must have language tables," Siegel says. "This Residential College has a language requirement for students to participate in conversation programs outside of class time. So they meet with faculty and grad students during lunch at designated language tables. It's a challenge because there's little turnover at these tables in what is already a crowded facility. Some of the traffic will be diverted to the South Quad, a renovated facility opening later this fall."
Regardless of the challenges, East Quad provides a rich learning experience for customers and dining staff. Michigan Dining will undoubtedly apply this information to all the operations on campus.