Allegheny students returning from Winter Break were met with sombrero-wearing Parkhurst employees and twinkling foil chili peppers adorning what used to be the “International Station” at McKinley’s dining hall.
Now, approximately two weeks later, students sound off on how the new “Cantina” station is fitting in.
It’s a Sunday night and sophomore Lindsay Menk sits with a friend in a McKinley’s booth with her $5.50 burrito sitting unwrapped in front of her.
“I like that we have the Cantina, but I hate that it takes away from the other international foods too,” Menk said. “The General Tso’s and the stir-fry were so good.”
As far as Parkhurst is concerned, the Cantina will be a permanent station, but only to a degree, according to Assistant Director of Retail John Beers.
“Some of the popular international options may be brought back at Brooks or at the Crunch station, which can be controversial because it’s the vegetarian station, but this is very much a trial period and we’re seeing how students like the changes,” Beers said.
Parkhurst plans to work with the campus to designate the best food options depending on student feedback.
Prices remain a big deal to the student body.
“My major thing is the guacamole,” said Menk. “It’s $1.25 for those little containers of it.”
Caitlin Finch sits across from Menk and nods enthusiastically.
“They show signs near the registers that they’ve listened to students and lowered prices but they just make other things expensive,” said Finch, ’12.
“One of the workers said the crazy guacamole price was due to avocado prices here —don’t know how true that is,” said Dylan McCreary, ’13.
“The prices for some of it isn’t terrible. $5.50 for a burrito that size is pretty good. What they’re charging for quesadillas is outrageous though.”
For Justin Page, ’10, the Cantina has been a refreshing change, particularly from the point of view of a student who has eaten at Allegheny for four years. “I feel like it definitely improved Mckins and added a much-needed staple to the food selection,” Page said.
Replacing Sodexho as our food provider has also been an improvement, according to Page.
“I think the quality and the variety of food here have changed significantly for the better. A lot of that has to do with the switch to Parkhurst in the past years and their ability to work with us on what we want.”
For Amy Zhan, ’11, her amused first impressions of the Cantina soon went downhill.
“I thought it was funny — the novelty of it, with the staff all wearing costumes,” Zhan said. “But like, right after —-the day after, I went, ‘I’d rather have the international,’ and I haven’t eaten there since.”
But Zhan’s expectations weren’t high from the start.
“Honestly, I didn’t really love anything from [International] but it had variety and it did have some good food,” Zhan said. “McKin’s is already pretty bland in choices. I feel like the ‘perma-burrito’ bar just makes it even more boring, not to mention it’s not the healthiest of stuff there.”
In rural Mexico, the word cantina traditionally refers to a kind of bar that is normally frequented only by males for the purpose of drinking alcohol and eating appetizer-like snacks, according to Wikipedia.
According to Wookiepedia, the Star Wars Wikipedia site, cantinas were poorly lit, crowded, and dangerous taverns riddled with criminal activity and typically located on smuggler-affiliated planets.
McKinley’s employees didn’t pick the word Cantina for its traditional or cinematic significance.
“It’s a corporate name,” said Beers.
More to say about the Cantina, have you? On a McKinley’s comment card, you must write it.
“Unfortunately, we can’t respond to the knee-jerk reactions [to the Cantina],” Beers said. “But we’re watching the student feedback over a period of time, and we always consider your comments when planning for the future.”