University News

Andrews Commons food, decor a welcome addition, students say

New eatery, offering longer hours, boasts more student patronage than its predecessor, the Gate

By
Staff Writer
Thursday, February 6, 2014

Brown’s culinary team took over a year to develop the new eatery’s menu, taking student feedback and previous trends from the Gate into account.

Over the past two weeks, the campus’ latest eatery, Andrews Commons, has been put to the test by ravenous college students, desperate to satisfy their appetites after full days of classes, meetings and practices. And judging by student responses, the spot has succeeded in serving its clientele. 

“Andrews has been even more popular than anticipated,” Ann Hoffman, director of administration and human resources for Dining Services, wrote in an email to The Herald.

Aaron Fitzsenry, culinary manager of retail dining, said the eatery had a “massively successful opening.”

Since then, Andrews Commons has run without any “significant problems,” wrote Hoffman, adding “we have a talented and hard-working staff who did an excellent job getting the operation open and running smoothly.” The staff is continuing to “fine-tune” the operation to make it more efficient, she said.

Andrews Commons is open five more hours each day than the Gate was and is “currently averaging 1750 credit transactions per day” — about twice as many as the Gate’s 850-900 daily credit average, Hoffman wrote.  The hours between noon and 1 p.m. and between 4:30 p.m. and 7 p.m. have been the busiest for the dining hall thus far, Hoffman wrote.

Student feedback and past trends were used to develop the menu and hours for Andrews Commons, Hoffman wrote. The menu was further refined by members of Brown’s culinary team, who “conducted taste tests for students in the fall to ensure (they) were on the right track.”

Fitzsenry, or “Chef Aaron” as students refer to him, said his team worked on the menu for over a year and that the goal was to maintain everything people loved about the Gate while adding new items and tweaking others.

Celebrity chef Mai Pham, who hails from Vietnam, worked as a consultant and brought authenticity to the “wok side” of the menu, which features stir-fries and Thai curries, Fitzsenry said.  On the pizza side, the flour is locally milled, and the pizza sauce is made on-site from organic tomatoes — a change spurred by growing campus interest in sustainability.

Students generally expressed positive reviews of the eatery’s debut weeks.

“They did well,” said Cia Mathew ’14, who praised the lounge-like atmosphere and “the comfiest chairs in a dining hall.”

“It’s beautiful — I cannot believe that they have this here,” said Amy Sit ’16, adding that she wondered how long the space would remain so clean.

Others, such as Sam Kortchmar ’16, said they were less enthusiastic about the atmosphere. He also expressed disappointment in the eatery’s location, saying he would use it infrequently, because he lives on the opposite side of campus.

But for many, the distance does not seem to matter. Samantha Paul ’16 said she knows people who eat there all the time despite its location. Dani Dichter ’17 said she frequents Andrews Commons, because she has classes on Pembroke.

As far as food, Christie Faucher ’17 said “the pizza is better than the Ratty” but added she still prefers the food at Josiah’s.

Anna Delamerced ’16 said she was excited to see Brown expanding in new ways and improving.

“It’s the little things” that matter, Fitzsenry said, from “people’s faces when they walk in here” to the comments about the automatic silverware dispenser.  “We’ve put all this love … into getting this going,” he said.  “We’re here to make people happy.”

  • Parent

    What’s with all the paper cups?? Sustainable? Get a dishwasher please.

    • Student ’14

      Many students pick up food from Andrews and then bring it somewhere else, so non-disposable cups wouldn’t make any sense. It’s more like a cafe than a dining hall.

      • Parent

        Yes but in the photo many sit in the cafe with paper cups. Starbucks is the same way. No one ever asks ‘for here or to go’ anymore. Just suggesting Brown (and all campuses) make an effort to use washable cups.

        • O

          I agree that it seems a bit wasteful. On the other hand, running a commercial dishwasher can also use a fair amount of energy, so I don’t know if you could say that reusables “always make sense.”
          In this case, I think either choice has its merits.

      • Parent

        Non disposable cups always make sense. Students may bring their own!

  • TheRationale

    My one complaint is that the seating is not practical. Tons of chairs and benches made for not eating in. If you don’t have a table seat, eating’s a pain. But the food is much better than the Gate’s, and it being open for longer is great.