Summerfields, known colloquially as Summies, has updated its dining experience for the 2013-2014 school year. The changes have received a mixed reception, although many patrons acknowledge that it may be too early to form a complete opinion on the new and altered options.
Regardless of reception, what is clear is that the changes are well-intentioned and serve to simplify (and hopefully speed up) the ordering process. Summerfields serves approximately 250-300 lunches and 400-500 dinners a day, staffed by only four cooks, three students, and a manager, so keeping operations simple and quick is key. Summerfields Operation Manager Joseph Callaghan succinctly summed up his intentions in the menu alterations, saying that in addition to increasing organization, he wants to keep things healthy and interesting.
The biggest change to the menu is the addition of Pho, or Vietnamese rice noodle soup. This option allows you to choose between four different proteins and two types of broth. The addition partially confirmed the rumors that circulated in the Wesleyan community last spring and over the summer that Summerfields would be adopting a more Asian-style cuisine. However, the Taqueria, this location’s signature style from last year, remains largely intact.
The Pho can be characterized as a work in progress. After receiving feedback from students during the first weeks of school, the chefs worked to make the dish seem more authentic. Many students remain wary of change, however.
“Not yet,” said Bruno Machiavelo ’16 when asked if he had yet tried the Pho. “I’m scared.”
The burger section of the menu was also reorganized. It now offers three burger bases and lets students choose among four cheese toppings for their burgers. It also offers an expanded list of other toppings, including goat cheese, fried egg, and horseradish. These are added to a list that already included bacon, mushrooms, avocado, onions, and roasted peppers. However, these additional toppings can now only be ordered according to the menu’s preset combinations.
Other changes to Summerfields dining include an updated list of salads and a new machine that makes milkshakes for a charge of three points. The prices of many individual items have also been changed, and are now generally more expensive. However, the option of ordering a “bundled” meal, including an entrée and a beverage during lunch, and an entrée, beverage, side, drink, and dessert during dinner, remains unchanged in price, meaning that bundles are a comparatively better deal than they were last year. However, the inclusion of a side dish for lunch bundles has been eliminated.
The final structural change to Summerfields was a streamlining of the text-in order system run by Zingle. The new text-in menu can be found near the Summerfields register, and it outlines 11 text-in order options. This new system makes things simpler for both the customer and the chefs, but it has received some backlash due to the decreased amount of flexibility with this system.
Callaghan explained why this alteration was necessary.
“You would have people texting us a paragraph and it became unmanageable,” he said. “[The new system] is simpler for us, and simpler for you.”
Lily Herman ’16 dines at Summerfields regularly, at least three—but sometimes as many as seven—times a week.
“People are up in arms about stuff being taken off the menu,” Herman said.
She added that these changes will not discourage her from continuing to frequent the dining hall.
Machiavelo, another regular patron, has similar feelings about the Summerfields changes.
“The changes seem unnecessary, [but] I’m still obsessed,” he said.
In spite of complaints, students still flock to Summerfields.
“That’s just what people do,” Herman said. “Everybody is always going to hate something about everywhere…. It’s all about the culture of Summerfields.”