Spa reworks menu, continues to attract students and staff
The Joseph Family Spa continues to be one of the most popular places on campus following the new menu changes implemented over the summer.
The Joseph Family Spa, informally known as “the Spa,” became a favorite student hang out when it moved from Roberts to the more centrally located Cotter Union four years ago. This semester, students returned to the Hill to find the Spa’s classic menu revamped for the first time.
“It was a total labor of love,” Becky Sugden, head chef and the lead laborer in the creative process of the Spa’s new menu, said. “We were looking for ways to go above and beyond, and offer quicker service and higher quality food.”
The summer was spent brainstorming, tasting and proposing new ideas to the executive Dining Services board. The menu now includes four brand new items: the Hillside Twist, the Quad, the Blue Light Panini and the Campus Life Flatbread Pizza.
“The naming process was definitely fun,” Sugden said. “We wanted to create ties to the community in our name choices, and reinforce the sense of ownership that the students and faculty feel for the Spa. It was also a personal thing for me since I grew up in Waterville and my sister graduated from Colby in 1994. I spent a lot of time with her up in Hillside, so that’s where the inspiration for the Hillside Twist came from!”
The new menu has fewer fixed items, but offers more possibilities to personalize your order: the “Spa-stackers” can be added to the “Your Way Burger” or “Your Way Chicken Sandwhich” and the quesadillas come in five different varieties.
One of the main goals was to streamline the menu and remove items that were not selling well. “Since we’re incredibly limited space-wise, we wanted to get rid of items like the calzones and the chili fries that required stocking ingredients that were only useful for one dish,” David Hartley, Spa retail manager, said.
Popular items such as the “Sugarloaf “and the “Skitwitch” sandwiches were taken off the fixed menu, but will be making appearances as specials on a rotational basis for limited periods of time. “We’re continuing to offer these favorites because these sandwiches have been around for a long time, and it’s really important to us to keep those traditions alive,” Sugden said. The specials rotation will be posted on the Colby Dining Services Facebook page to keep students updated on what’s being offered and to ensure that they don’t miss out on their favorites.
Dining Services staff has found that limiting options has decreased the time students spend choosing at the counter and allows orders to be processed quicker. “The variety of items was really bogging us down,” Sugden said. “Now we have more time to focus on the presentation and quality of the food. The whole staff is really invested in it.”
Quality and efficiency were also the main concerns that inspired the change in the board plan option (students can choose to eat one meal a week at the Spa as part of their meal plan). Instead of offering a different board plan option every day, the Spa now serves the same board plan meal all week long, switching only at the start of the new “Board Plan week” on Friday mornings.
“There was too much prep work and additional labor for our cooks involved in offering different Board Plan options every day,” Hartley said. “It was also very costly to be carrying such a variety of food items.”
“The Spa is really becoming more defined. By getting rid of excess choices, we can provide more efficient service and higher quality food,” Sugden said. Ciabatta bread, for example, has now replaced the three different types of lower quality bread that were previously featured on the menu.
“We’re definitely more cutting edge now than we have been previously, and we’re really excited about it” Sugden added.
The Spa is not the only Cotter Union destination that underwent changes this semester. The Take Four program in the Caporale Lounge was fine-tuned over the summer and now offers made-to-order salads, wraps and sandwiches that can be personalized in a variety of ways for students looking to grab lunch on the go.
“There was some concern early on that the line would be slower, but as the employees have gotten used to the new system, wait time is improving,” Firouz Khaksar, director of dining services said.
“Most students have said they really enjoy getting to pick what they want,” Olivia Reed, a Caporale Lounge staff member said. “I used to make 100 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches a day, but now I only make 15 or 16. People love the new options, so feedback so far has been very positive.”
The Dining Services staff is encouraging students to fill out comment cards in order to evaluate the success of the changes in the Spa and the Caporale Lounge. “We’re really interested in student feeback so that we can understand where we can tweak the menu in the future,” Hartley said.