Thursday, April 25, 2013

Commons improves its product

By Brian Bruns, Columnist
Culinary week may be over, but someone forgot to tell the Commons in the Anderson University Center (AUC) — and that’s a great thing.

A few weeks ago I wrote a column that criticized the Commons’ food quality and accused it of not living up to the spirit of its own cooking competition, Commons on Fire.

My column drew a response from Erin McGinnis, director of Dining and Culinary Services, coupled with an invitation to compete in Commons on Fire.

I wasn’t able to participate, but I have managed to escape to the Commons for a bite to eat every now and then.

While I appreciated the written response from McGinnis, I prefer the way the Commons as a whole has responded to my criticism — with fresh food and new ideas.

I can say with confidence and a straight face that the Commons in the AUC has definitely stepped up their food service game.

Free Lunch Wednesday during culinary week showed me the Commons can make food just as tasty as any fancy restaurant.

I sampled every dish — I felt it was my duty to try them all — and was impressed by the flavor and presentation.

I could literally taste the care put into each and every item.

Free Lunch Wednesday also made me wonder what was missing before.

Whatever the reason, the most important thing is that the food is now looking and tasting fresher.

There are also some new wrinkles to make a diner’s experience more enjoyable.

One of the changes is at the Aglio pizza and pasta station. Customers now have the option to fill out a ticket with their choice of main dish along with custom options like sauce and toppings at lunch.

The new process feels professional, keeps things moving and seems to make things easier for the person working behind the counter.

Instead of having to ask everyone for their order, they can look at an order and just get to work.

Even some of the menu boards have changed, sporting a new look and making options clearer.

This is especially evident at the sandwich station, which now lists every type of bread and sandwich ingredient offered.

This is extremely helpful information and gives customers more power in choosing what they want to eat — definitely a step in the right direction.

I applaud the Commons’ efforts to improve its product and service.

I can’t say whether anyone else on campus has noticed it, but I have begun to change my mind about the food served in the Commons.

The challenge for the Commons is now to sustain and improve.

Employees must remain dedicated to providing the best dining experience possible and managers need to reinforce a culture of preparing and serving food with care.