“Summies is underrated,” Summerfields regular Charlie Bondhus ’22 said. “Remember when they had a Tinder? Underrated!”
Summerfields—colloquially known as Summies—can be best described as Usdan’s neglected sibling. It resembles Usdan in its acceptance of both meals and points, but it doesn’t seem to get as much attention or love.
This inattention could possibly be due to its location. Tucked away in the Butterfields, it doesn’t receive as much foot traffic. Summies seems to mainly attract underclassmen who live in the Butts or those who need to grab a meal later than Usdan is open. Unlike Usdan, where offerings change daily, the menu is the same every day. Such consistency provides students an escape from the ever-changing social and culinary landscape inherent in the Usdan experience.
“I just like Summies in general because I kind of like change of scenery from Usdan,” explained Abby Sodie ’22. “I think Usdan can get kind of stressful and kind of old. Sometimes it’s also just nice to sit down and talk with your friends and not have to constantly worry about everyone getting up and getting more food.”
At the beginning of the semester, returning students were surprised to see that Summerfields had undergone a renovation of sorts. The menu had changed. Many students were upset. Without any warning, some of their favorite items had been scrapped from the menu.
“WHY DID THEY GET RID OF THE ITALIAN BURGER,” Savanna Goldstein ’22 commented, responding to a Facebook post about the menu change. “What is not to like about a burger with a slab of mozzarella and basil? I would boycott if I didn’t live in Butts.”
“They got rid of the Caprese salad which was one of the only good things there,” Leah Seldin ’21 added.
Bondhus echoed Seldin’s sentiments.
“Bring back Caprese salads, I cannot stress this enough,” Bondhus pleaded. “I refuse to be ripped off by ’Swings.”
What many students don’t know, however, is that the menu changes every year. Bon Appetit’s Resident Direct Manager Mike Strumpf oversees food services across campus and explained the menu selection process in an email to The Argus.
“Every summer we evaluate menus campus wide to see what is selling, and analyze trends in collegiate dining and what we think would be popular here at Wesleyan,” Strumpf, who works alongside a culinary team to help make menu-related decisions, wrote. “We look what other dining programs are doing successfully and tweak it for our programs here. We can’t afford to become complacent.”
Strumpf mentioned that there has been positive reception to many of the new items.
“Some of the new items have become very popular in a short period of time,” he said.
While Summies staples such as the burrito bowl, chipotle turkey avocado sandwich, and of course the Summerfields classic salad still remain, they are accompanied by additions such as build-your-own grain bowls, noodle bowls, and a Korean barbecue beef sandwich.
The grain bowl seems to be an especially big hit due to its convenience and customizability.
“The ‘pick 6 grain bowl’ is ingenious, and I’m frankly surprised it was only a thing this year,” wrote Bryan Chong ’21 in a message to The Argus. “It’s easily prepared so short wait and less work for staff, [and] it provides all the substitution [and] flexibility that picky eaters want.”
“I especially like how you can customize the grain bowl, because I think it gives a lot of variety,” said Gina Gwiazda ’22. “It’s also kind of like you can personalize it to exactly what you want…. A lot of items on the menu are rigid and it’s hard to adapt them to what you want.”
Lucas Pabarcius ’22, however, warned of the dangers of a disorganized bowl.
“The grain bowl is good, but you have to have a goal in mind when you get it,” he explained. “You have to be like, ‘I know exactly what flavor profile I’m getting.’ So the grain bowl is good if you’re careful about it. I get my grain bowl, and then I get sweet potato fries which I put in, and that makes it good.”
Other new options have also received positive reviews.
“I’ve tried the Korean barbecue sandwich,” Philippe Bungabong ’22 said. “As someone from Asia, I think it’s actually pretty good. I think it hits the spot for sweet and salty with a little bit of tanginess that mirrors the flavors of Korean BBQ.”
Some, however, have reservations.
“The Korean barbecue sandwich is just really tiny,” Ben Rubel ’22 argued. “It should be like 3 points, it’s kind of like a snack…. The best thing I could think of on the menu, [but] it’s just so small.”
Students also expressed appreciation that the new options are accommodating for students who may not eat meat.
“I’m a vegetarian, so I can’t try any of the new sandwiches,” Gwiazda said. “But I like how they do have a vegetarian option for the noodle bowl and the grain bowl.”
Even though many beloved items are missed, the variation has shown to be well received. After all—variety is the spice of life.
“I feel like there’s a lot of people who automatically discredit Summies, like, ‘Oh, I hate Summies,’” Sodie said. “But I think more people have to give it a shot, and yes, not everything is amazing on the menu. But it’s super easy to find things that you like. And I think everyone can find at least one thing they like.”
Hannah Docter-Loeb can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Instgram @keepitonthehannahdl.