Reimagining the Dining Experience
Michelle Eggink, Assistant Director of Content Marketing & Communications
August 21, 2023 — Throughout the summer, Marist’s new dining partner, Gourmet Dining, was busy building a fresh new dining experience for students, faculty, and staff. The regionally-based and family-operated company has big plans to elevate the food features, culinary facilities, and overall dining experience on campus.
Gourmet’s arrival follows an extensive, student-focused review of the College’s dining services and the needs of the entire campus community.
New to Marist, but a well-known leader in higher-education food service, Gourmet Dining’s enhancements will be noticeable as students start the new academic year.
Some of the upcoming changes you can expect to see include:
- Main Dining Hall: For the start of the semester, most of the new spaces will be found in the main dining hall. The new grab-and-go station at the North entrance, Delicious Desserts & Joe, will cater to early risers and late night studiers with hours from 7 a.m. to midnight. A coffee station, a wide array of desserts, and pizza (by the slice or an entire pie) will be available. The Main Dining Hall will also feature a new and expanded allergy-friendly kitchen supervised by a dedicated campus dietician and a sandwich and salad specialty location.
- Hancock Center: Hancock Cafe, now renamed Taste of Florence, will feature Italian-style items like a traditional cafe in Florence as an ode to our Marist Italy campus. Espressos, cappuccinos, panini sandwiches, Italian pastries, and a gelato machine with weekly rotating flavors will be available at this location. Taste of Florence is set to open by the end of August.
- Steel Plant: The menu has been revamped and expanded in the Steel Plant, including bagels from new local partner Eastdale Ave Bagels and the return of avocado toast, a student fan favorite.
- East Campus & North End: Future enhancements being planned include four-season dining spaces, warmed patios, and venues that highlight the picturesque views of the Hudson, with an emphasis on East Campus and the North End.
- Local Partnerships & Engaging Experiences: Gourmet is known for active partnerships with local farms, restaurants, businesses, and organizations like Dutchess County Outreach, Lola’s, Athena Gyros, Cosimo’s, Ruby Hills Farms, and Rossi’s. That means we’ll start to see food trucks, farmers markets, and local eatery pop-ups integrated into on-campus dining.
- Innovative Technology: Gourmet will offer a GrubHub intuitive meal-ordering app with lockers for quick food pickup in the Student Center Cabaret. The Marketplace on East Campus will also now operate exclusively for delivery and takeout orders, featuring food from many local restaurants.
- A New Kind of Corner Store: Later this fall the construction of an Amazon Go store will begin. The Amazon Go store will feature produce, ready-made dinners, meal kits, snacks, and more.
- Learning and Development: From a hands-on teaching kitchen to student learning experiences in business, hospitality, nutrition, and other areas, this partnership will create career opportunities after students graduate. You can expect the construction of the teaching kitchen to begin in the spring semester.
Same Great Staff
While Marist can expect to see and taste a lot of changes in this upcoming year, there will be many of the same faces in the dining hall and on-campus cafes on Gourmet Dining’s team.
"I have worked at Marist for a long time and am excited to be a part of all the amazing changes that Gourmet Dining is bringing forward to better serve the Marist community, especially with their dedication to giving more options to those on a plant-based diet or struggling with food allergies,” said Chef Jay Misasi, who has worked at Marist for 34 years.
“We’re excited to team up with an innovative partner that incorporates local food and partnerships with the community and focuses on elevating the student experience,” said Matt McMahon, Assistant Dean for Student Affairs. “Gourmet Dining understands that an engaging dining experience fosters a sense of belonging, wellness, and fueled connection since memories are made over food.”
The Gourmet Dining team has already hit the ground running this summer, serving up Summer Pre-College students, pre-season student-athletes, Doctor of Physical Therapy students (DPT), Physician Assistant students, and community members at the New York Stage and Film’s Kickoff Event before the arrival of the entire student body.
"The Frungillo family and the Gourmet Dining family are exhilarated to be part of the Marist community," said George Kuzma, Vice President of Business Development for Gourmet Dining. "We look to bring a best-in-class dining program that features the great and unique qualities of the institution. We plan to incorporate local businesses and farms to provide engaging experiences and fresh and quality foods."
Marist students earlier this month got the opportunity to taste test several new menu items at Steel Plant, including smoothies, espresso drinks, sandwiches, pastries, bagels, and avocado toast.
“We were all very excited to taste the new Gourmet Dining food options,” said Benjamin Cook ’26, Business Entrepreneurship student at Marist. “In addition to the fancy avocado toast at Steel Plant, I loved a lot of the new and upgraded food in the dining hall, like the tasty stuffed bell peppers, pasta dishes, fresh fruits, and delicious desserts, especially the pie.”