Even if college cuisine has a reputation for being subpar, Dave Manz — the new general manager for Parkhurst Dining at Taylor — is hopeful that students and their stomachs will be pleased with what he and his team have to offer.
The 2022-23 academic year promises a new dining experience for students across campus, as a host of changes are coming to both the Hodson Dining Commons (DC) and the LaRita Boren Campus Center (the Stu).
The new additions are good news for sophomore Mikayla Ellis, who was eating a lot of Mexican food at the end of last year because it was the only station that appealed to her.
“It was good, but I was sick of it,” Ellis said. “I’m excited for more options.”
Several new stations have been added to the DC, including a vegan and vegetarian area titled V2.
“I’ve been doing (a vegan and vegetarian station) on campuses for many years, and it’s a great concept,” Manz said.
Manz has been bringing his culinary expertise to colleges for over three decades. After starting off in the food industry as a chef, Manz joined Parkhurst Dining — which now oversees the food scene at Taylor — and has been with the company for 22 years.
He is hopeful that students who don’t normally gravitate toward vegan and veggie dishes will still give them a taste.
Aside from V2, the DC will also feature Inspired Eats and Bravo Display Cooking. Inspired Eats is located in the same area as V2, and the station serves dishes free of the eight major food allergens: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans.
Manz said Bravo Display Cooking should prove to be another favorable addition to the DC.
“It is designed to have some action and personalization of the menu item,” he said.
Students can expect Bravo Display Cooking to deliver pasta and stir fry options. An omelet bar will be available on weekends.
But it is not just the DC that is armed with new offerings, as significant changes have also taken place at the Stu.
Yet the most popular option hardly changed at all. Manz didn’t want to meddle too much with Chick-Fil-A.
“That (would) run me out of town, right?” he said.
Trojans will still have access to salad and pizza via Hello Bistro Express and Hot Tomato Pizza Co. Manz is hopeful that both areas will be a hit with students, especially the hand-tossed pizza, which Manz said will always be made with fresh dough.
“They’re really pretty good,” he said. “I think people are going to like the pizza. It’s a step up from what (the student body) has seen in the past.”
Dashi has been replaced by TUs Tacos, a concept similar to Chipotle. Meal swipe entrees at TUs Tacos include two tacos or a customizable burrito bowl.
All of the options inside the Stu will have a range of entrees. A Meal Swipe lets diners select an entree, a side and a 16-ounce soft drink. Coca-Cola products have largely replaced Pepsi products across campus.
One additional major change is Parkhurst’s acquisition of the Jumping Bean, Taylor’s coffee shop.
Students will now be able to utilize their dining dollars and swipes — something Ellis is looking forward to — when grabbing their daily dosage of caffeine. Manz believes individuals will appreciate having that option.
“I think that will be something that adds some additional convenience for the campus community,” Manz said.
With meal swipes now an option at the Bean, individuals for the first time will have the option of picking up a pastry or breakfast sandwich along with their coffee.
Manz said that even though Parkhurst purchased the Jumping Bean, the coffee shop will still be primarily run by students.
Aside from all of the culinary changes and tweaks, Manz hopes to decrease the wait time for diners at the Stu.
When Manz visited Taylor in the spring, he knew he would need to make a few adjustments.
“I really feel that what was lacking was attention to detail and quality,” he said.
It may have been a tall order, but Manz and Parkhurst Dining are hungry to give Taylor University its best dining atmosphere to date.