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Cooking Up Something New at Essie Mae's

Essie Mae's Snack Bar in Clothier Hall is cooking up something new this summer. As an exciting addition to the sandwiches, wraps, and melts offered at the deli, a new exhibition cooking station occupies a corner of the snack bar, introducing variety into the lunchtime routine.

The initiative to bring the exhibition cooking to Essie Mae's began last summer, as Dining Services' Cash Operation Manager Augustine Ruhri brainstormed ways to attract more customers to the snack bar. "Customers are always looking for something new, especially faculty and staff," Ruhri said. "Because they always see the same meals over and over again, we didn't have many faculty and staff members eating in Essie Mae's, so I asked myself, how can we attract more people?"

The exhibition cooking seems to be a viable solution. Dining Services staff member Leslie Taylor, who cooks at the new stir-fry station, notices bigger crowds during the lunch hours. "The new exhibition cooking is very good, and it's a nice change," Taylor said after the noontime rush. "I think many people do enjoy it - you can tell by the size of the lines."

The implementation of the new food stations meant new training for Dining Services staff. Ruhri, a chef herself, spent much of last summer instructing her staff on the new specials. "Staff members were very open and flexible, and they wanted to learn," Ruhri said. "It's fun, and it gives them something different to do. They are very secure in what they do -- they do the job very well."

New lunchtime options include stir-fry, pasta sauté, fajitas, waffles, and more. Additionally, summertime barbeques are scheduled to make a reappearance as soon as weather permits. Meals are offered on a rotating basis throughout the week. "So many people are asking when the barbeque is coming back -- they love it. They are asking already if we'll change the cooking back during the school year. I think they are nervous we won't keep the stations," Ruhri said.

New changes and dining options will continue to be added as Dining Services works to keep things interesting. A new order of equiptment is on the way to introduce even more variety into lunchtime meal schedules, although Ruhri is keeping quiet. "I dont't want to talk about it, it's a surpise!" she said with a smile.