Dining Hall makes selection changes, asks for student feedback


Qiuyang Chen

Dining Center of Emerson College

By Jonathan Yao, Staff Writer

Coinciding with Diwali, the Lion’s Den will introduce Indian food to its menu, replacing the Mediterranean selection for the month of October. 

This change is one of the many efforts Emerson’s dining services are making to bring variety to Emerson’s cuisine, per Dawn Sajdyk, resident district manager of Bon Appétit Management Company—Emerson’s campus dining and catering partner, said. 

“Everything I do is student-related,” said Sajdyk. “It’s all based on student feedback.”

The lack of menu changes can cause what she calls “dining fatigue”—collective student boredom of repeated weekly options. 

“I switch things up almost every semester,” she said. 

Sajdyk also revealed that the Lion’s Den will offer Korean fusion in November and crêpes in December. 

As for Victor Choi, the sushi chef who previously occupied the station in the Lion’s Den, students can still visit his business Pick N’ Roll Sushi on Boylston Street, which is working alongside Emerson and Bon Appétit. He will also occasionally return to the Emerson dining hall. Sajdyk typically has him come about once near the end of each month to work at a station in the dining hall to sell sushi.

Wanting to gain more community feedback, the dining hall staff plan to release a survey for student feedback in late October. In the meantime, students are encouraged to write recommendations on the blackboard in the Dining Hall or to email the staff directly.

“I have students [email] a lot, and I try to respond within 24 hours. Sometimes it’s like ‘I loved the chicken curry last night’ and sometimes it’s ‘Can you guys bring in more of this?’” Sajdyk said. 

She mentioned that student feedback also helps her improve selections with common allergens and dietary restrictions. She added that the dining hall’s gluten free area would be expanded with better breads and snacks in the future.

Sadjyk believes the busier dining hall is now more energetic and welcoming, and says the staff love working with the students. 

“Food brings people together, no matter where you’re from in the world,” she said. 

Many students are enjoying the new dining changes. Chris Lowe, a junior marketing major, arrived at the college during the pandemic and has noticed the expansion of the variety of food stations. He remembers some stations not always running, or some stations having very short hours when he first arrived. 

“It definitely feels like there’s a lot more options,” Lowe said. 

Eric Ladd, a sophomore visual media arts major, also appreciated the changes made by dining staff based on student feedback. He noted his new favorite addition, the chicken bacon ranch pizza.

“[The college] has implemented not only one, but two dessert bars running on top of the ice cream, so it’s really able to help me with my sweet tooth,” Ladd said. 

He also enjoys Emerson’s other dining locations, particularly the Paramount Cafe when he is looking for a quieter experience.

First-years are also enjoying the dining experience this year, pleased by the quality of their first experience with college food. 

“I was expecting a bad high school-level prison lunch, not because of Emerson, but just what I’ve seen in movies about colleges,” said Cate Banks, a first-year media arts production major. 

She noted that, given the large selection of vegetarian and vegan options, dairy alternatives, and desserts, she has no trouble finding what she wants to eat in the dining hall.

Based on student feedback from the survey, the college plans to add and change aspects of the dining experience in the future. 

“I’m hoping that we get students to vote on what they want to see,” said Sajdyk. “And that’s exactly what we’ll do.”