As campus life has begun to swing back into a new normal this fall, the college dining hall has resiliently taken up the role of gathering place. At Montclair State University in New Jersey, the Chartwells Montclair State Dining team has put together just the place: A modern food hall where sustainability rules and the setting is perfect for new friends, new experiences and conversation jump-starters like TikTok burritos.
And that’s not’s all that’s new: Chartwells Senior Executive Campus Chef James Standridge started in August, just in time to help introduce the new food hall to campus.
Food Hall at Sam’s Place has turned what used to be a more traditional dining hall with serving lines into a modern food hall model with a hand-crafted chalkboard aesthetic and a strong farm-to-table vibe from nine stalls ranging from allergen-free to vegan to homestyle comfort and TikTok trends.
College students “turn to food when they’re happy, to have fellowship with friends, to celebrate and even when stressed or having a bad day,” says Resident District Manager Dora Lim. Her goal has been “to provide a dining program which delivers comfort, variety, nutrition and fun.”
Lim and her team have checked many of those boxes with the stations found within the new food hall. Upon entering, the first station students see is Homestyle, with a sizzling rotisserie roaster and carving station. Here’s where the comfort food comes in: Herbed whole chickens, roasted turkey, Cuban pork, sweet cornbread, mac ‘n cheese and more.
For students living the gluten-free/allergen-free life, the Pure Eats station is the “purple zone” with color-coded kitchen tools and daily rotating meals that avoid gluten and the nine major allergens. 100% Vegan is the plant-based station with alternative proteins and made-to-order items like vegan omelets.
The heart of the food hall is the trendy Innovations pop-up space, where students can find “as seen on TikTok” food trends, like TikTok Ramen, TikTok Burritos, fried ice cream and hot chocolate balls. Innovations will also be home to cultural events and special menus. Other food hall stations include Flame grill station, 500 Degrees pizza and pasta, Nook breakfast spot, Stacked made-to-order deli and a salad bar with lots of selection.