The Terrace at Central Dining Hall

Alfred State College students of years past may remember long cafeteria lines where white-clad women ladled portions of sometimes unidentifiable food onto their plates as they passed chafing dishes holding pre-cooked breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. 

But fall semester 2009 ushers in a whole new era of fresh, customizable, and delicious all-you-care-to eat dining at The Terrace at Central Dining Hall. Following a major rehab—in structure, equipment, and decor—students may now select from among six unique specialty serving areas (or they may sample them all!).

Asian Flare—serves a range of stir-fry lunch and dinner specials daily, featuring dishes from Thailand, Japan, and China. Chopsticks available!

Grille Works—offers hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken breasts, Italian sausage, and French fries; if this is your staple fare, then this is the place for you. On Saturday and Sunday Grille Works offers made-to-order omelets, pancakes, and waffles!

Traditions—supplies good ol’ home-style comfort foods like baked chicken, roast beef, turkey with all the trimmings, pork chops, mashed potatoes, and vegetables, to name just a few options.

Carve and Create—is a sandwich bar where students can build their own sandwiches (available on a variety of breads), create their own “wraps,” or design Panini or submarine sandwiches—all built to order!

Primo Italiano—offers several pastas served with the diner’s choice of protein and fresh sauces as well as a wide variety of pizzas baked in an authentic high-temp pizza oven able to produce 12 16-inch pizzas in eight minutes!  And don’t forget the garlic bread!

Last, but certainly not least, Just Desserts—tempts diners with a variety of sweets at every meal, and hopes to include offerings from the culinary arts: baking, production and management students in Wellsville in the near future. Favorites such as soft ice cream, yogurt, and ice cream novelties are also available. Those with a taste for fresh fruit can also find seasonal favorites.

The 24-item salad bar remains in the dining room of the Terrace, offering two soups daily for lunch, fresh produce and greens obtained from the college farm and greenhouse and the Angelica farmers’ market when available.

The Terrace at Central Dining Hall“Students have been flocking to the Terrace for their meals,” says Karen Canne, director of dining services for ACES (Auxiliary Campus Enterprises and Services, the college food service, vending, and transportation supplier). Preliminary figures confirm anecdotal evidence that the Terrace is a hit: “In the first week of operation in 2008,” notes Canne, “we served 8,495 meals; in the first week of operation this year, we served 11,776 meals!

“In fact,” Canne continued, “we have more than doubled our weekly Stearn’s chicken order—as well as our meat order from Sysco Foods….

“The entire staff is gratified that our students are enjoying this food court dining experience,” she continued. Additionally, she says, students and ACES staff are forging new relationships because “the staff is right there out in front—not behind the scenes like before.  And the staff enjoys it because they get instant (overwhelmingly favorable) feedback from diners.”

In order to make this new format work, many ACES employees who had been used to cooking behind the scenes are now in the “front of the house” using new methods to cook and needed some re-training. One 35-year ACES employee (Mary Wheeler) left her cooking comfort zone and is now using industrial-sized woks to serve up tasty Asian dishes.

“Besides the ‘back of the house’ upgrades, such as combi-ovens, new coolers, and reconfigured work space, visitors to the dining room will notice new colors, new tables and reupholstered chairs [done entirely by Chris Loper (ACES assistant director of dining for cash operations)—all 172 of them!], relocation of the salad bar, new ceiling and floor, and access to the dish room for more efficient clean up of used dishes and utensils. And, there are two new exits to help traffic flow.

“We have hired two more full-time employees – a cook and a general food service worker – to help us manage the increase,” says Canne, as well as “25-30 additional student workers—our own little contribution to the local economy.

“We are very pleased with the results of this rehab,” says Canne. “Though there is still some work to be done, we feel confident that our students and other patrons will have a positive dining experience in the Terrace.”