Mikey Bryant|The Hudsonian
OUT WITH THE OLD, IN WITH THE NEW
Prime Business Dining replaced Chartwells over the summer as Hudson Valley’s new foodservice provider and they plan to bring extended service hours and themed dining with them.
“I think that the quality is going to be markedly different [with Mazzone], and I hope all the students recognize it,” said Ann Carrozza, director of the FSA, in an interview with the Hudsonian back in April regarding a new foodservice provider. “The people are so invested in this. They’re so excited and cannot wait to get here.”
Prime is a local company that is a division of Mazzone Hospitality. Until venturing into college foodservice with Hudson Valley, Prime had focused mainly on business dining.
“In the Capital Region, the market is turning towards these very high-end colleges, and the college dining experience is really stepping up its game. We wanted to get our feet wet in a college that we knew wasn’t 24/7 and didn’t have students living on-campus so that we could really test out what we do well, and see how students respond to it,” said Stacey Warrings, Prime’s marketing manager.
The fact that Prime only operates in the Capital Region was a positive factor in the college’s decision to bring the company onto campus. Prime has ties with the Great Taste NY and Farm to Table programs, as well as having its own fish program.
Quality is another factor that Prime hopes will set it apart from Chartwells. Jessica Hensey, Prime’s sales and operations manager, said, “We take a lot of pride in developing our menus and using the best ingredients that we can, so that should be a nice turnaround for you guys too.”
Warrings is confident that their superior level of service and quality will not contribute to an increase in price.
“We want to make sure that you don’t have to leave campus to get a great sub and the price is going to be the same if you stay here, and the quality is going to be equal or better if you stay. We want to make sure that it’s all centrally-located for you, so I think that, on a price-point, we’ve done our research and we think you’ll be happy,” she said.
Although Carozza found a few items to be more expensive than Chartwells, she felt there was a great improvement with the quality of the food. “The cookies were to die for, and I ended up buying almost $20 in cookies,” Carrozza said.
Prime really hopes students will be pleased with its customer service as well.
“A lot of the feedback I have been gathering from Chartwells was that the customer service aspect of things was a little lacking,” said Hensey. “We really pride ourselves in making sure that our employees are excited about what we’re doing and excited to interact with the students. Prime Beat is a really great way to build a relationship between the student body and our employees.”
Night students now have the option to purchase food before their classes with the extended hours of the café downstairs in the Campus Center. Previously known as the Naked Pear, it has now been reopened and redesigned with extended hours.
“They’re open until 6 and will stay open for that first round of night classes [for students] to get their items, and then we’ll close after that, but we want to make sure that we recognize those night classes,” said Warrings.
Prime focused on cosmetic changes during their upgrades over the summer. Students will notice the new bright orange walls in the Campus Center’s main café, now known as Prime Beat, and the new themes and wall stickers with the Prime logo.
Prime is also in the process of developing an idea that will allow guest student musicians to play on a stage in the campus center. This idea fits with the Prime Beat theme and the desire to give the Campus Center a daytime coffee shop feel.
In an effort to give each campus café its own identity, Prime gave each location an identifying graphic and corresponding menu changes.
Williams Hall is known as the Pit Stop and draws from the idea of cars in the automotive technology department.
In addition to the cosmetic upgrades, Williams experienced a menu overhaul over the summer and is now considered the “smokehouse.” One of Mazzone’s Malta locations has a smoker on-site where they provide fresh-smoked meat every day for the whole company. The Pit Stop will also offer BBQ platters, man n’ cheese and other comfort foods.
“Everyone is going to flood over to Williams Hall,” said Warrings.
In the Science Center, the café will be called Prime Elements. Mazzone did minimal rebranding and stayed away from too many cosmetic changes because the building is so new.
Aside from a change in the pattern on the back wall in the Marvin Library café, students won’t notice much of a physical change. However, hot soup, grab-n’-go items, and expresso options were added to the menu in that location.
“What’s elevating [the library] location is really more of a menu change than cosmetic changes,” said Henesy.
With all of the new changes in menus, hours and physical appeal Warrings and Hensey will be focusing on gathering student feedback during this upcoming academic year. There will be a comment card box at each café location.
“You should never feel nervous about giving us your feedback; we want to know,” said Warrings. “It is known that this is our first college, so we’re not going to come in and tell you what you want to eat, we want to hear from you for a year and then kind of take the second year to really answer those requests.”