Colleen Quinlan ‘15, Staff Writer
It’s a new year and new changes have occurred in our two dining halls, Sparky’s and the Warriors Den. Michael Newmark, the general manager of the dining operations on campus, said the changes are just the beginning.
“The team and I want to keep raising the bar, there is always room for improvements. This past summer my goal was to raise that bar and bring a quality dining program,” he said. The changes were primarily driven by feedback from Student Advisory Group, the Dinning Committee and Merrimack students.
In the Warriors Den, you will notice a new station called Quesarito, a Mexican concept that lets students can create their own quesadillas or burritos. “We wanted to make an international food court. Last semester we introduced a sushi bar, we have an American-style grill and we added a gelato bar along with an Indiana cuisine,” Newmark said.
At Sparky’s, the big change was the “Simple Serving,” a pilot program within the Sodexo system. Here students can enjoy a nut-free, gluten-free hot meal every day, from a staff trained allergy awareness. “Most universities have a My Zone station which deals with cold food. We still have our My Zone station, but we want students to feel comfortable and enjoy a hot meal,” Newmark said.
Another change was that $50 bonus points were added to the student dining plan, which can be used at all dining operations on campus, such as Zebi, Warriors Den, Dunkin Donuts and Sparky’s. Commuters and guests can also sign up for a meal plan option on MyMack. The best way to do so is to get in touch with Newmark.
A noticeable change this year is seating in Sparky’s.
Newmark gives an inside look on why the changes were made and why they worked so well. “With the growth of enrollment at Merrimack we wanted to maximize and increase the seating capacity. The seating is designed to be restaurant style and it has help given the increase enrollment,” he said.
Brianna Burk, a junior, gave her opinion about the new seating; “I understand why they did it. I know some students are upset over it but it’s the betterment for the college and I support it.”
Some students gave their opinion towards the changes along with what they want to see in the future. Zack Wilkins, also a junior, states, “The changes are a step up in the right direction, but I would like to see more consistency towards the food not have the some routine every night, but keep changing to update the menu.”
Stephanie Goodman said she would like to see longer hours in Sparky’s and also an expansion due to the increase of enrollment. When asked about the expansion of Sparky’s, Newmark said that they will continue to evaluate and will consider expanding Sparky’s, if necessary.
“We do not want to seem corporate but we want our employees and students to be able to enjoy themselves and have fun when they come to Sparky’s.”