Students may have noticed some changes to Market Square this semester, all of which were done in an effort to better the environment and offer more services for students.
Miles Oller, the assistant director of facilities for Housing & Residence Life, said the changes include:
- New furniture and carpet
- Digital menu boards
- Smoothie menu
- Dessert station with a bakery oven
- Local coffee partnership with Dwell
- Flat-top griddles at the Shuffles station
- New restaurant partnerships
- An avocado toast station offered at breakfast daily
The changes were made for a variety of reasons, Oller said.
In the dining area, the booths were removed and replaced with family-style furniture that is easier to move around. This allows students to change seating arrangements and custodians to move furniture and clean underneath it.
The built-in booths in the main dining area will likely not return, Oller said, but moveable booths are available in the west dining area.
Oller said he has received mostly positive feedback, but some students miss the comfortable seating options.
“I like the changes; I think it’s different,” said senior environmental science major Jarrett Blasingame. “I miss the booths, I’ll be honest, but they’re not coming back, and I guess we will learn to live with the change.”
The removal of the booths did not result in fewer seats, Oller said.
The longer tables forced Brown-Lupton University Union staff to move the bakery section to where the smoothie bar used to be.
“This setup would now give us the ability to bake items in front of students and offer them fresh, right out of the oven,” Oller said. “The bakery move meant we had to move the smoothie station to an area with a smaller footprint.”
These changes increased the speed and service while also taking guesswork out of flavor combinations, Oller said.
New technology makes it easier for students to know what food is being served and shows what is going on around campus.
“We continually saw students walking to the front of the line to see what was being served to decide,” Oller said. “This gives students a chance to read from a distance and navigate Market Square quicker.”
The televisions also show how long each menu option will be served.
“I think this is a step in the right direction,” Blasingame said. “I think they still need to work on long lines and those kind of things and restructuring some of how that works.”
Long lines at Market Square have been addressed in the past, most recently in 2016 when dining services introduced a “meal exchange” option to encourage people to eat at other places besides Market Square.
Also in 2016, Market Square introduced other changes that included new plates and bowls and new silverware dispensers.
Equipment-wise, stir fry will now be cooked on flat-top grills instead of in woks.
“We were having issues with food particles getting caught in the drains when we rinsed out the woks,” Oller said. “This caused ‘swelling’ issues in the BLUU plumbing and was causing damage — it is also more manageable for our team to operate and has increased speed of service.”
Dwell Coffee is also available to all students in Market Square as part of a new partnership with Dwell’s owner, Jeff Brannon.
Cameron McCool, a sophomore business major, said the changes to Market Square do not make his dining experience any better.
“I feel like there’s always stuff they can improve on, like quality of the food,” McCool said.
However, the changes to Market Square does not mean the food served will change at all.
“Most of the changes are structural, like ‘Oh, we got some new tables,’ but that didn’t really fix the quality of the food or the diversity of options,” Sarah Frazier, a sophomore communication major, said.
Don’t expect this to be the end of changes at Market Square. Oller said the SGA Dining Committee meets once every two weeks to discuss potential changes that could be made to campus-wide dining.
“Internally, we review menus and track take rates to determine acceptability,” Oller said. “We continue to partner with new local restaurants to bring Fort Worth to the students.”