Students returning to campus this semester were met with an updated Sharpe Refectory after it underwent partial interior renovations over winter break.
The University’s Department of Facilities Management, Bon Appetit Management Company and Brown University Dining Services worked together to design the Ratty’s new interior space. The layout considered operational efficiency, aesthetic enhancements to the decor and enhancements to the number of service points in an effort to improve traffic-flow, said Peter Rossi, director of Brown University Dining Services.
The new renovations rearranged the setup of the Ratty; beverages and dish returns have been relocated, and there are fewer tables in the dining hall. Additions include three new serving stations, which have allowed dining staff to offer new food options for students. New tiling and decor were also added to all serving stations.
A majority of the costs of renovation went toward purchasing new kitchen and server equipment, Rossi said.
In Spring 2016, a committee composed of University administrators, employees of BUDS and students selected Bon Appetit to work with BUDS to improve dining experiences on campus, The Herald previously reported.
The committee asked potential food supply vendors to submit proposals on how they planned on working with BUDS to improve service to students. The committee was looking for a company who would be responsive to the needs of the University, work well with the BUDS team, increase food quality and selection and work with the current Ratty space, said Christian Hanson ’17, a member of the committee. Bon Appetit was selected because their vision for the Ratty aligned with the University’s goals for the dining hall.
“The recent enhancements to the Sharpe Refectory are a direct reflection of our partnership with Bon Appetit,” Rossi said.
So far, the partnership between BUDS and the Bon Appetit team is going well and the company has been a welcome addition to the BUDS staff, Rossi added.
Bon Appetit plans on expanding the Ratty’s seasonally based menu offerings and increasing food sustainability at the Ratty, Rossi added. Bon Appetit and BUDS are also working on enhancing the menu at dining locations across campus and are planning special culinary events in the future.
BUDS has received positive feedback from students about the Ratty’s new design, but there are some students who do not welcome the new renovations.
“(The new renovations) feel uncomfortably separate from the rest of the Ratty, which is still old,” Nikki Tully ’19 said. “And the food did not improve with it.”
Jessica Zambrano ’17 stated that in the first couple of weeks of the new semester it took a lot longer to get food. Many students seemed to be spending extra time wandering around, trying to find what they were looking for.
“I’m more used to it now, but I don’t understand why the changes were necessary,” Zambrano said.
The partnership between Bon Appetit and BUDS is still developing, though there are currently no plans for future renovations, Hanson said.