There’s been a lot of talk since the beginning of the semester about the new food vendor, Harvest Table, who has been brought in to replace our university’s last vendor, Sodexo. While the changes may not be as noticeable, there have also been major improvements to the general facilities, which the university has undertaken to help improve the overall feel of life at Brandeis.
I’ve noticed three main areas of improvement: Usdan, The Library and Sherman/The Stein.
Let’s start with Usdan. The new ordering system from Starship, along with the rework of the kitchen, has actually streamlined what I always thought was a pretty inefficient design for the restaurants. Prioritizing space for the kitchen staff behind the cubbies is a much better use of that area, since people can still go to the seating section to wait. The fountain drink dispenser was also an amazing idea, as I will no longer have to be on the receiving end of a wild guess on what drink I might want when the vendors run out of Sprite.
The Hoot Market also feels like an improvement, since the more gnarly looking grocery shelves got replaced with open shelving units, also freeing up a little more space for the line which usually develops around noon and stays there until about 2 p.m. The new refrigerator wall is a big improvement on the grocery shelves from last year as well, I don’t worry as much anymore about just how long my sandwich has been sitting out.
Space is going to be a reoccuring theme in this article, since I feel that a lot of the improvements the university has made has been in service of maximizing the amount of room usable for the main campus services. Looking back on it, a lot of these changes seem fairly obvious, which is precisely why it’s so important that the university has started working on them.
Goldfarb/Farber seems to remain the most unchanged, although the main portion of the lobby has been renovated with a new front desk. This makes sense, as it looks a little more professional than the weird dentist-appointment counter from last year. While the upgrades don’t make much of a tangible difference to usage, the overall feel of the space does seem a lot more professional, a major upgrade from the random, out of place blue walls from last year. It was also a good idea as it has optimized room for the printing section, allowing for more people to use that space at the same time.
Finally let’s move onto Sherman. Most of the improved things were things we always needed, including a space where the green boxes wouldn’t sit precariously . Also, the addition of a big table with condiments was an EXCELLENT idea. Instead of having to stop at three different booths, now it’s really a one-stop shop. However, its location is contributing to a lot of congestion in the middle of the mess hall. My suggestion would be to move the condiments table to the area which had the milk dispenser last year, on the other side of the desert counter. Alternatively, we could set it up to where all lines could start in one direction, and then you could move around to whichever line you were interested in.
However, what I would really like to commend has been the near-total renovation of the Stein. The remodeling of the floors and walls has made it into a much more open and respectable looking restaurant. Even though ordering online isn’t off the ground, the renovations have made getting food from there a lot better of an experience overall. It also gives more room for a bigger number of tables, which will help when it comes to people packing in for trivia nights.
These are just the major improvements, but I’ve been seriously impressed with how much the university has been able to improve the facilities in just the last three months. There is certainly much more work to be done, but I’m excited to see how well all these changes turn out in the coming weeks. Also, Massell pond has a tree again! How cool is that?