Tech Dining Opens New Operation on Campus
When students return to campus this fall, they will have an array of new dining options to choose from. After more than 20 years of operation by outside contractors, Georgia Tech has moved to self-managed dining services with the creation of a new department, Tech Dining.
“Our students told us that they wanted better quality and value,” said senior director of Tech Dining Ryan Greene. “After years of working with contractors, we knew that bringing the operation in-house was the opportunity to improve the dining program. When we put Georgia Tech talent and resources to work, we can provide the very best for our students.”
Turq Daniels, director of dining retail operations, described the process of gathering student feedback. “The entire process was student-driven. We started by asking students what types of dining options they wanted on campus,” said Daniels. The dining team discovered that students were interested in more vegetarian and vegan options, as well as expanded international cuisine. In addition to reviewing the results of multiple surveys, Daniels and the Tech Dining team brought more than 40 vendors to campus for the Taste of Tech Dining sampling event in late April. Students cast more than four thousand votes for their favorite foods and vendors.
Greene knew that quality personnel was critical to a quality product, so his first step was to create a team of top-notch culinary professionals. This team includes formally trained chefs who direct menu planning and food preparation. In response to input from students, the culinary team developed new menus focusing on high-quality entrees, authentic international flavors, and expanded vegan and vegetarian dishes.
Culinary director Scott Bruhn, who received his training at Johnson & Wales, is passionate about the freshness of the food served at all campus locations and strives to provide a quality of food that is higher than normally expected on a college campus. “We have assembled outstanding culinary talent for Georgia Tech,” said Bruhn. “We want to give these team members every opportunity to work with the best ingredients so they can demonstrate their skills. Whenever possible, we make things from scratch as opposed to simply assembling frozen or pre-packaged ingredients.” Examples of this effort include the dining team grinding spices on-site to improve freshness and quality, fresh fruit for juicing, and the bakery at West Village running 24/7 to produce baked goods, sweets, and fresh buns and bagels on campus. Bruhn also plans to add smokers, a popcorn kettle, and homemade donuts.
Bringing the team in-house has benefits for employees as well as students, faculty, and staff. Food-service employees, previously paid as contract employees, are now state employees with competitive wages and benefits such as retirement plans, health coverage, and tuition assistance. Opportunities for employee growth and development are available as well.
The Tech Dining team built the dining program from the ground up, going back to the very basics of what is offered and how it’s provided. One of the first major changes was to the structure of the student meal plans. Switching to unlimited dining hall visits either five or seven days per week for on-campus first-years gives students better value for their money. In the unlimited dining system, a student can visit a dining hall as many times as they wish per day. While there, they can enjoy all-you-care-to-eat dining. Upper-class students can either choose an unlimited plan or a meal pass plan that allows a limited number of meals on a block plan.
Changes to Dining Venues
Tech Dining will operate three all-you-care-to-eat dining halls and more than nine retail dining locations across campus. Both Brittain and North Avenue dining halls are featuring new concepts, and West Village has transitioned from a food court to an all-you-care-to-eat model. All three dining halls offer a convenience store, WreckStop or WreckStop Express, where patrons may use cash or credit instead of a meal card to purchase select grocery items, assorted beverages, and other convenience items.
Tech Dining has partnered with PJ’s Coffee in New Orleans to create a signature blend of coffee exclusively available at Georgia Tech. Called Burdell’s Brew, the rich, flavorful blend is named after Tech legend George P. Burdell. Both Brittian and North Avenue dining halls will offer the coffee, freshly ground, iced, cold brew, and brewed to order.
Brittian Dining Hall
Brittian Dining Hall boasts all-new food stations. With one swipe of their meal card, students have access to nine different serving areas. Home Network provides homestyle foods, such as meatloaf and chicken tenders. Diners can enjoy fresh greens with a plethora of vegetables and toppings at Engineered Salads. Those who crave waffles, scrambled eggs, or a pancake at four o'clock in the afternoon can find it at Sideways Diner which offers a full breakfast all day and traditional fare of burgers and fries. Students with a multi-cultural palate can find international food at Global Connection. Pi Zone, featuring a variety of pizzas, is a favorite of Bruhn. “Pizza is my favorite dish to cook,” he states. “It’s such a versatile food. You can really get creative with it.” Bruhn has brought his passion for pizza to life at Georgia Tech by using fresh dough, made in-house. For those focusing on eating healthfully, Wellness Innovation offers vegan and vegetarian entrees that go beyond a basic salad. The finishing touch is Hi Rez Pastries where pastry chef Allison Polaski bakes up a variety of cookies, pies, cakes, and other desserts.
North Avenue Dining Hall
Like Brittain Dining Hall, North Avenue Dining Hall has been equipped with all new serving stations. New York Pi offers New York-style pizza, flat & floppy, the kind you have to fold over to eat. Build your own sandwiches are created at Techwich. Vegetarian and vegan options can be found at Vega-Byte. Firewall Grill provides burgers, fries, and grilled cheese sandwiches. Flavors from around the world can be found at International Import, and Action Expo serves a rotation of stir fry, pasta, rice bowls, and more. Fresh Cuts salad bar displays a wide range of salad vegetables with just-picked freshness. HTML Eats homestyle food station proffers home cooking options such as chicken-fried steak, mashed potatoes, and greens. Finally, CADfections Bakery station allows diners to satisfy their sweet tooth with desserts including brownies, cookies, cupcakes, pies, and hand-scooped Mayfield ice cream.
West Village Eatery
West Village, which previously operated as a food court model, is now, like Brittan and North Avenue, an all-you-care-to-eat dining hall with brand new station concepts. Modeled after Ponce City Market, it has the modern feel of a converted industrial warehouse with concrete floors and raw wood. Guests can enjoy a variety of diverse menus, including Asian and Indian-style cuisine at Ginger and Spice, Mexican-inspired cookery at Tech Taqueria, or Italian food at The Leaning Tower of Tech. Those seeking more traditional fare can head to the White & Gold Grill. Mindful Bytes is the place for students in search of vegan, vegetarian, and healthy food. Ramblin’ Coffee and Sweets is a full-service coffee shop where baristas make drinks to order and serve an extensive number of freshly made pastries, scooped ice cream, and assorted desserts.
The changes coming this fall aren’t limited to the dining halls. Retail dining across campus will also be changing. The Dining Hub, located in the Exhibition Hall will house two vendors: Panda Express and Twisted Taco. Local Atlanta favorites Cluck N Mooh and Kaldi’s Coffee will also be welcomed to campus.
Kaldi’s will set up a full coffee shop in Clough this fall, replacing the current Starbucks. Kaldi’s co-owner Tyler Zimmer is excited about the partnership with Georgia Tech. “We are thrilled to bring our coffee and culture to Tech,” said Zimmer. Kaldi’s takes special care in sourcing coffee. The beans for the Georgia Tech location will come from Los Tablones in El Salvador. The sustainable Los Tablones farm is operated by Georgia Tech grads, members of the Markwort family who have been farming coffee in El Salvador for over four generations. Kaldi’s has been buying coffee from their award-winning farm since 2015.
Cluck N Mooh, a restaurant known for its burgers, wings, and fries, with locations around Atlanta, is developing special menu items for their Georgia Tech location. “Partnering with Tech has allowed us the perfect opportunity to develop new vegan and vegetarian items such as made-from-scratch black bean and falafel burgers that will appeal to the students,” said Cluck N Mooh owner Rinku Patel.
Rising Roll Gourmet Café is returning for a second year on campus. Owner Mike Lassiter is excited about serving students. “Based on our success despite the pandemic last year, we expect the Georgia Tech Rising Roll location to be a staple among students,” said Lassiter. “We are expanding our brand to new college campuses across the nation and Georgia Tech is being used as the model for those new locations.”
In the Sideways Café in the Price Gilbert Memorial Library, Blue Donkey is also back for a second year. In addition to the library location, a coffee cart will also be on campus, primarily at Tech Square and IC Lawn.
The Blue Donkey cart joins a fleet of food trucks that will be on campus five days a week. In addition to favorites like Chick-fil-A and Gyro Chef Mediterranean, new vendors will be offering lunch on a rotating schedule.
A new concept in the Tech Tower, replacing Highland Bakery, is Whistle Bistro. The new restaurant offers both sit-down dining and takeout entrees and will serve Boar’s Head deli sandwiches, brew specialty coffee, and offer fresh baked goods.
By paying careful attention to detail and responding to student feedback, the Tech Dining team has created an assortment of high-quality dining opportunities for Georgia Tech’s students and staff members. “Throughout each step of the creation of Tech Dining, we have focused on expanding quality, variety, and value for the Tech students,” said Greene. “We’ve pulled together an amazing team that has the talent and skill necessary to make Tech Dining one of the premier college dining operations in the nation.”
To learn more about Tech Dining, visit dining.gatech.edu.
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- Created By:Morgan Miller
- Modified By:Morgan Miller