Few meals can beat the value of the all-you-care-to-eat brunch at Mississippi State University (MSU), located in Starkville.
Think about it: You get tons of hearty food and access to a plethora of fresh juices, coffees and teas. You can dine and dash or sit and relax. You can come at 10:30 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. You can come with a party of one or a party of 20 and easily find seating.
Plus, it costs a little over $8.
“There are only five or six restaurants in town that serve brunch,” says Stephanie Sharp, marketing manager for Aramark at MSU. “We welcome our community to dine with us and we encourage students and alumni to do the same.”
Hosting brunch is one thing. Making it easily accessible for students and the community is something completely different.
That’s why this year MSU relocate brunch to its brand-new 29,000-square-foot dining hall, The Fresh Food Co., which opened Aug. 8.
Previously, MSU hosted Sunday brunch at The Marketplace at Perry. Built in 1921, Perry is a cathedral-style dining hall that features Gothic arches and wood beams. It’s stunning and nostalgic (especially for alumni) but campus has changed. Roads have turned into walkways and parking near Perry has become nearly impossible.
“It’s really inconvenient to get to Perry if you’re coming from off campus,” Sharp says. “Meanwhile, we have a beautiful new dining hall with lots of available parking. It’s modern and interesting. The way we prepare food here is exciting and interactive. It is a natural fit for Sunday brunch.”
Turns out, she’s right.
MSU’s first brunch at The Fresh Food Co. was Aug. 23, and each week since they’ve averaged 600 covers.
The menu features traditional brunch fare alongside choices from each of The Fresh Food Co.’s various stations—traditions, Mediterranean, sauté, chophouse, Mongolian barbecue, deli, bakery and salad bar.
“We emphasize cooked-to-order meals inside The Fresh Food Co.,” says Sharp, who has been with Aramark at MSU for two and a half years. “Guests can watch cooks prepare omelets, pancakes or a number of other dishes right before their eyes.”
During non-brunch hours, The Fresh Food Co. acts as a traditional dining hall, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner to MSU’s population of nearly 20,000 students.
“In October, we have three home football games in back-to-back-to-back weeks,” says Sharp, who adds that her biggest challenge has been making the community aware of the new Sunday brunch. “We’re really excited to be able to offer brunch for visitors the morning after these games. Football is a big part of our community both on campus and off. This gives our students, our alumni and our fans another chance to be together and enjoy MSU.”
Going forward, Sharp expects the brunch menu to evolve. As the weather turns cooler, more comfort-style dishes will likely find their way to the menu. But until then, the plan is to continue to spread the word about this new, elevated offering.