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Group reviews six eateries on West, Central

Members of the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee met to present evaluations of campus eateries Monday.
Members of the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee met to present evaluations of campus eateries Monday.

Members of Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee met to present end-of-semester vendor evaluations for several campus dining venues Monday evening.

DUSDAC reviewed feedback as well as recent and upcoming changes for The Perk, Bella Union, Devil’s Bistro, Joe Van Gogh and Armadillo Grill. Each member of DUSDAC serves as a representative to the committee for at least one on-campus eatery.

Recent changes to The Perk include the return of soy milk to the coffee bar, seasonal cakes and cookies and a new layout that promotes the flow of the line and enables employees to see when the coffee dispensers need to be refilled. The Perk is an offshoot of the popular Saladelia Cafe, and many diners are not aware that all of the food at The Perk is organic and completely homemade—even the hummus is made from scratch. Owner Fida Chanem explained that these factors keep prices high.

Bella Union, located in McClendon Tower, recently expanded refrigeration space and plans on changing its sandwich menu for the Spring. One of the main problems identified by DUSDAC was that because employees cannot adjust temperature settings, doors and windows are often propped open, which can let in insects.

Brittany Brady, a sophomore representative for DUSDAC, presented the end-of-semester vendor evaluation for Joe Van Gogh. According to Brady, sales have been robust this semester despite the fact that the venue is restricted by its limited space. Although the coffee and pastry shop has contacted the University about expanding is presence on campus, there has been no definitive response. The venue is also considering adding bubble tea, donuts and crepes to its menu.

The Devil’s Bistro was also evaluated. The Central Campus eatery, which opened in April, is still seeking to establish its niche on campus. The bistro is seeking to create more of a dine-in environment, as opposed to the current situation, in which many students order their meals to go. To encourage this, the venue plans to host cooking demonstrations next semester, as well as concert events and more student events, such as Pi Kappa Phi fraternity’s “Trivial Wings.”

Sophomore Ari Ruffer, DUSDAC representative for Armadillo Grill, criticized the vegetarian offerings at the popular Bryan Center eatery. When nutritious and flavorful vegetarian offerings are limited to begin with, “charging for tomatoes is silly,” Ruffer said. He noted, however, that the venue is limited in terms of menu changes because it is a chain.

Like the Devil’s Bistro, Armadillo Grill is seeking to expand its entertainment offerings and may soon begin hosting spoken word events.

Although DUSDAC commended Plate & Pitchfork’s vegan and vegetarian meals, high food quality and variety, there was some criticism of the inexperienced and sometimes unprofessional student wait staff. DUSDAC members were also split over portion sizes for the eatery’s desserts. Some members supported the large portions currently served because they encourage sharing, while others suggested that a decrease in portion size would be accompanied by a decrease in price.

“The portions are mammoth,” said Franca Alphin, director of nutrition services at Student Health. “Most people can’t eat one dessert.”

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