Last spring semester, some UP students voiced complaints about meal prices, food quality and long lines at The Commons and Pilot House. Kirk Mustain, general manager of Bon Appetit, addressed some of these concerns at and asked for more feedback from students. This fall, in response to the student feedback, the University of Portland’s food provider has made some changes.
These changes include a revamped Pilot House menu, new stations at The Commons and town hall-style events where students can voice their opinions about the food. Mustain led this effort after he and his team spent the summer considering how they could update campus dining.
“One of the biggest things was a response to last year’s story and continuing with that theme,” Mustain said. “We went back and looked at all of our outlets.”
To increase efficiency, the Pilot House has switched to a smaller menu, and it’s now serving all meals with a buzzer to notify students when their food is ready.
Students can expect offerings to change after each break, according to the Pilot House Manager Samantha Zizza. By changing the menu seasonally, Zizza hopes to provide students with the freshest ingredients possible from local farms. The new menu, which Bon Appetit plans to get student feedback on, will feature weekly specials as well.
“What we’re going for is the restaurant feel,” Zizza said. “We want the Pilot House to feel a little bit different than what The Commons is.”
The Pilot House has much less kitchen space than The Bauccio Commons, Mustain said. He said it was trying to serve too many different dishes before. Now, chicken wraps and bento bowls have been moved to The Commons. Previously, they were served in the Pilot House.
“Change is the biggest thing we heard,” Mustain said. “We heard variety. That was probably the number one thing. People are willing to wait for good food.”
Zizza also said the Pilot House will continue to ask for student feedback through comment cards. Following requests from students in the last few weeks, Zizza said the Pilot House is working on adding more variety to the menu. This includes more salads, healthy dishes and vegan and vegetarian options.
“We’re getting a lot of brutal honesty, which is good,” Zizza said. “It’s exactly what we want, and this is something that we’re going to take and use the feedback to better craft what we’re offering.”
The Commons has also introduced changes to their food stations this year. A five dollar food option and a new global bowl, which will change every week, have been added.
And Mack’s Market will continue to rotate their offerings based on student requests, said Mack’s Market Manager Cory Shimada. He said he encourages students to make a request on the board behind the register if they want to see a new item, though not every item can be ordered.
“We like to make a lot of changes in the Market,” Shimada said. “But we don’t have a lot of space to work with.”
In order to maintain transparency, Mustain said Bon Appetit is planning focus group meetings and town halls to discuss student concerns. There’s no date set yet, but the first event is expected to take place in the next two weeks.
“Really we just want to encourage a dialogue,” Mustain said. “We want to make great food for everyone, and we really encourage personal feedback.”
If students have food allergies or require other dietary accommodations, they can contact Mustain at . Mustain will work with students on an individual level to create meal plans that meet their needs.
Sam Cushing is a news reporter for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.