McKinley’s needs permanent pasta

The Allegheny community currently faces one of the most divisive issues in Allegheny’s history: Which reigns supreme, pasta or potatoes? While both could stay, it is not fair to the iteration which has dominated throughout the entire semester. Pasta bowls deserve to be permanently served in McKinley’s.
At the beginning of the year, I was excited and impressed by the idea of having a rotating station in McKinley’s. With just four other stations to choose from, Bowls provides students with a place to get a meal they haven’t had in a while and can look forward to eating. However, this concept has widely lost its appeal, as the potato bowl option has failed to maintain students’ desires.
On the Bowls menu, there are 5 options of bowls to choose from, including a create-your-own feature. Each option either contains mashed potatoes, tater tots or pierogies. Students can also choose from a list of proteins, toppings, sauces and cheese to add on.
Fans of the potato place also have critiques for the restaurant.
“The potato place was good before they stopped cutting up the chicken,” said Libby Roda, ’25 “The whole purpose of a bowl is so you don’t have to work for it.”
Complaints like this make a clear case for why pasta should be served continuously. Additionally, if the staff focuses all their attention on one place, we can make it better for all who are served.
One positive thing I have heard about the potato place is the pierogies. This potato-stuffed dough could be easily included in the pasta menu as a type of dumpling.
Before coming to Allegheny, I had never heard of the concept of potato bowls. Since it was an option in my life, I decided to try it. However, being vegetarian, I was limited by what I could get in the prepared bowl options. I decided to customize my own at Bowls. I used mashed potatoes and put on them classic toppings such as cheese, sour cream and chives. I also added tofu as a meat substitute. While I did eat the entire bowl, I wouldn’t call it appetizing. The mashed potatoes were barely warm so the cheese didn’t melt.
It was a disaster.
With multiple different noodle types to choose from and three sauces, the pasta place provides variety and customization for our meals that we don’t get anywhere else inside McKinley’s anymore. Pasta deserves to be permanently served because of the price, portion size and because it’s overall, a more enjoyable dining experience.
When compared to potatoes, which go for around $8 a pop, the pasta bowls start at a lower rate of $7. While both upcharge for protein options, they cost the same amount in the end if you want meat in it. However, the pasta portions are much larger than the potato bowls and can be eaten for multiple meals. Customers also get a breadstick included with their meal.
Along with the large portion size, pasta can be adapted to many different food allergies and dietary restrictions. As a vegetarian, the availability of tofu has been an amazing substitute for meat. The restaurant also offers gluten-free pasta for those with an intolerance.
As a freshman, I have consistently heard of the difference between Parkhurst, the previous dining service, and Aramark. After talking to many upperclassmen, I discovered a pattern of longing for the old pasta place to return. Students have to describe it to me as “incredible” and “cooked better.” If the dining staff puts all their effort and concentration into the pasta bowls, we could possibly return to this era of pasta excellence.
After talking to an Aramark employee at Bowls, I learned about the hassle that switching between these restaurants puts on the dining staff. Responsibilities such as having to cook, prepare and order ingredients for a whole different menu about every two weeks are just the tip of the iceberg — not to mention needing to be ready to efficiently serve students during their hours of operation.
I also asked the dining worker about her opinions on which restaurant was more popular with students. Without hesitation, she said the pasta was the go-to restaurant. Sometimes accumulating about 10 to 15 students in line at a time, the pasta place is the only restaurant I have seen garner such a high turnout other than Bento.
In the end, I believe that switching to permanently serving pasta at Bowls is more beneficial to the students and staff on this campus. If only a limited number of people are buying potato bowls, we are wasting resources and potential. It is time to make a real change on this campus. It is time for permanent pasta at Allegheny College.