In August 2000, the new Hillcrest Market Place dining hall opened after two years of reconstruction. From the start, the concept of food court areas, each featuring different kinds of food, proved to be very popular with students.
Hillcrest Market Place is in the center of three large dining areas with huge windows that look out over the Iowa River and the east side of campus. The new facility is much bigger than the former dining hall in Hillcrest, there are lots more food choices at all meals, and the windows make it seem almost as if you were dining outside in the sunshine.
Its been so popular, in fact, that students from eastside residence halls have come to eat at Hillcrest. Burge Dining Hall, which is located on east campus, has expanded its menu to offer some of the same attractions as Hillcrest. Burge will begin its own reconstruction soon. Its estimated to be complete by 2004.
Parents who have seen it are equally enthusiastic. One woman rushing to keep up with her student passed a reporter writing in a notebook and said, I cant stop now but I wanted to tell you, Im a parent from Lincoln, Neb., and I love Market Place!
The marketplace concept offers Hillcrest residents various kinds of foods in small food stations. For example, Field of Greens is a salad bar, Piazza Café has Italian foods and pizza, Home Cooking carries family-style foods, The Grand Avenue Grill offers student favorites such as burgers and fries, and a bakery has fresh-baked goods at all meals.
Burge offers The Old Capitol Diner, with two or three choices of comfort foods; the International Escape Station, with several choices of international cuisine; the Clinton Street Deli & Grill, for grilled or charbroiled sandwiches and a variety of sandwich fixings.
Within these stations, foods rotate on an eight-day cycle so that theres a variety of cereals, breads, deli items, toppings and condiments, entrees and desserts over that period.
Both dining facilities have an all-you-can-eat policy. Tony Sparacino, a junior from Homewood, Ill., and a resident assistant at Hillcrest, remembers what happened when students first encountered all the choices.
People were so excited about the new place that they took a lot of food at each meal, he says. Theyd take much more than they could eat, so food was wasted. Pretty soon there were notes posted near the food: Make sure your eyes are not bigger than your stomach, or Go light, you can always come back for seconds. I noticed that after the notes went up, people took less food.
Heather DeAtley, a first-year student from Burr Ridge, Ill., and a varsity gymnast, has been happy about the variety of food because shes pretty careful about what she eats.
Spooning mesclun greens onto her salad plate, she says, The gymnastics team doesnt have a particular diet, and we dont keep journals or anything, but we are weighed and the percentage of fat is measured. So we are conscious of eating right. I have a salad every day.
But when its time to talk favorites, she grins. Grilled cheese sandwiches, she says. Seasoned and curly friesIm a big fries fan, though my parents wont be happy to read that.
Both recall another thing about the early days.
The lines of people waiting to get in at dinnertime were out to the parking lot and sometimes out to the street, DeAtley says.
Sparacino would vote to have Hillcrest Market Place open longer hours than it is. Some colleges dining halls are always open during the day, he says. But I guess Grab & Go makes up for that.
Grab & Go lets students pick up a breakfast, lunch, or dinner to take with them, as part of their board contract. They can choose from a variety of entrees, breads and bagels, vegetables, salads, fruits, and desserts, plus one or two drinks.
Sparacino says that hes going to live in an apartment in the fall, but is considering still keeping a meal plan at Hillcrest. DeAtley plans to remain in Hillcrest next year.
Hillcrest Market Place is open from 6:45 to 9:30 a.m. for breakfast, 10:45 a.m. to 1 p.m. for lunch, and 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. for dinner on weekdays, and fewer hours on weekends. Burge is open an hour less at dinner on weekdays, but the rest of the hours are the same.