Low satisfaction rates at Lower

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Rachel Rubino

Chefs prepare made to order Burgers in Lower Farinon

Photo by Hana Isihara ‘17

Over the summer, Lower Café in the Farinon Dining Center underwent a stark renovation and an overhaul of menus and policies. Changes to the café include extended hours of service, different food options, and adaptations to the eating area. I greatly anticipated the eatery’s improvements over the summer when I was notified about them via email. Since being on campus, students have buzzed about Lower’s transformation. While some students are indifferent to the new Lower, and a select few prefer it, most students appear to detest the adjustments that have been made.

Perhaps the most notable change made to the café is its menu. Lower no longer serves most of its food in a fresh, “on-the-go” manner as it had in years previous. The only fresh option made on the spot are several types of burgers, wings, and pasta. The establishment has opted to prepackage its sandwiches and salads.

People have had difficulties coming to terms with change, and I cannot deny that I am one of these people. Although Lower’s transformation has not left me as ecstatic as I had originally anticipated, it’s hard for me to overlook the positive modifications that have been made. For starters, the eatery is more aesthetically appealing. The reconstruction gave it a more polished and spacious vibe. In addition, Lower’s extended hours have proved especially beneficial. Their prepackaged snacks are a great pick-me-up during odd late weeknight hours when a craving strikes and I am willing to sacrifice some Flex Dollars. As for particular meal options, I enjoy the efficiency of the new “serve-yourself” salad and soup bar. The ingredients are fresh and live up to last year’s options. All things considered, however, I find myself disappointed over other changes that have been made to Lower’s menu.

As a frequenter of the café, I am especially perturbed by the fact I can no longer buy a homemade sandwich, crêpe, or fresh breakfast option when I do not have time to eat with my friends. Although the fresh burgers provided are especially delicious—in particular the white bean portabella burger—I remain disheartened by the fact it remains the sole source of “made-to-order” eating options. The pasta bar options are dissatisfactory. Sauces are water downed, additives are undercooked, and only a few combinations are available for meal swipes. The containers for the self-serve salad bar barely hold a properly sized portion. There is also  disappointment the freshest being the least healthy choices.  It’s better to indulge in burgers or wings only upon occasion, which makes Lower’s menu and appeal largely limited. “Most students don’t realize why these changes have been made to Lower,” Student Governement Representative Ricky Lazilotti ‘16 said. “The fact of the matter is the school wanted to encourage a ‘tight-knit community’ feel. Eliminating many of the fresh grab-n-go options encourages students to dine together in the main dining halls on campus that do offer homemade meals.” Due to the administration’s aspirations, Upper and Marquis have become especially busy during rush hours. Lunch lines to enter these establishments often lead out the door. By the time each student swipes in, they have difficulty finding a place to eat with their friends. Meanwhile, the beautiful new space at Lower is only half full, but with the poor quality of the food options offered at Lower, most people rather swipe a meal at the larger dining halls that also offer pizza, pasta, salad, and soup with more movement.  While I commend the objective of fostering a community feel, I am unsure of whether or not changes to meal options was the road to take in order to achieve this objective. Most students have demanding schedules that require on-the-go options, which they prefer to be fresh and under a Meal Plan.

The upcoming semester foresees continuous changes to Lower. The newest debate is over whether or not the establishment will reinstate a sandwich bar or put in a new sushi bar. Perhaps such changes will bring Lower Farinon the higher satisfaction rates it deserves and the healthy options it needs.