The Cellar looks and feels the same as it did when we left campus last May. The tables are still wooden, and the florescent signs are still bright. However, when you receive the menu at this campus restaurant and bar, you will notice some things that are different. For one, they have decreased the size of the menu down to one page. And, you won’t be able to find any of the old, greasy food favorites on this menu.
The management at The Cellar completely changed the menu over the summer in an attempt to make the food they serve healthier, fresher and more local, said Beverly Binns, senior manager at The Cellar. In order to best keep the menu seasonal, the menu will be rotational. It will change three times throughout the year in the fall, winter and spring, Binns said.
They have phased out most of the pre-cooked and frozen items that were on The Cellar’s previous menu. The only remaining dishes from their old menu are the burger and a weekly hummus. Old dishes like the buffalo chicken dip and cheesy bread have been taken off of the menu in favor of fresher foods. Fresh food is much healthier because of all the added preservatives in frozen food, said Karen Hensley, the dietitian at University Dining Services.
This change does not seem to have affected the cost, Binns said. Their budget has not changed.
The decision to change the menu was two-fold. Decreasing the number of items on the menu was done primarily to shorten wait times. Binns said their number one complaint in the past had always been long waits for the food.
Of the decision to make their menu healthier, with new items such as kale salad and quinoa toss, Binns said it was simply a decision to be more conscious of the environment and community.
Binns said that as soon as the spring semester was over, The Cellar management had brainstormed ideas and recipes, and then worked with the purchasing department to get samples and test recipes for the new menu.
Binns and her team have followed a fresh-eating trend that seems to be happening in Richmond. While they were creating their menu, “they looked at the restaurants around here and what they were offering,” Hensley said. “A lot of up-and-coming restaurants are fresh ingredient restaurants.”
Binns said students have been mostly receptive to the menu, but she had still received some complaints. Many students miss the old dishes that The Cellar served.
“I miss the old food,” sophomore Courtney Kauffman said. “There aren't nearly as many options now, especially vegetarian options. There used to be way more variety.”
Alejandra Garcia-Narvaez, a senior, said, “Frankly, we’re a college campus, and I think they bit off more than they can chew by being gourmet.”
However, of the old menu’s nutritious value, Hensley said, “Let’s just say this one is much better.”
Contact staff writer Katie Mogul at firstname.lastname@example.org