Parkside guests see an assembly of delicious items right in front of them.
Fresh prep with fresh, local ingredients is a point of emphasis at Parkside. Here, a chef is preparing wraps.
Like all dining outlets at WashU, Parkside is a la carte. The meal plans are 100% declining balance so students only pay for the items they want with prices clearly displayed.
Parkside was designed with out-of-classroom collaboration in mind, giving students an attractive space with its towering floor-to-ceiling windows and plenty of natural light, as well as the great food.
With seating for around 300 (190 inside and 100 outside) during normal times, Parkside serves as the dining component of the 18,000-sq.ft. Schnuck Pavilion, a campus hub that contains the Environmental Studies program and the Office of Sustainability, and also supports pedestrian and bicycle commuters with shower facilities, lockers and bicycle parking.
Kiosks and mobile ordering were an absolute must for Parkside to keep it on track and on trend. Students and guests are directed towards the eight kiosks to place their orders then go down the line to watch their ticket make its way to the designated pick-up area.
Parkside Cafe is the first concept on the WashU campus to use a 100% mobile ordering platform.
Signage details the day’s menu rundown.
Customizable menu options include this “pick 2” choice among soup, salad and sandwich/wrap.
A kale Caesar salad, an example of the kind of healthy but attractive and tasty dishes served at Parkside. The salads are just one sub-genre of the menu that goes through its own three-week rotation, reflecting the latest trends among students as well as the seasonality of the outside world.
“The diversity in our specials is really important to students and guests. They especially love the plant-based ones,” says dining team member Porsche Warren, seen here baking tofu for use in Masala Curry Tofu, an example of a day’s special featuring a healthy multi-cultural menu item.
Toasted Ravioli (“t ravs” in St. Louis slang) are a must-have every Tuesday and Thursday.
One signature dish is the St. Louis style ribs special. “I love when we run St. Louis style specials, especially when it’s BBQ,” offers dining team member Bill Jackson (pictured). “The whole building smells amazing and brings a strong sense of city pride to the campus.”
A highlight of the WashU dining program is the ever changing carvery wraps, made famous across campus by Arthur Curtis (pictured), who prepared custom wraps at the schools for 22 years and is a familiar, welcoming face.
When WashU’s new Chancellor, Andrew D. Martin, was inaugurated in October 2019, Parkside introduced that celebration by debuting a signature coffee roast created in conjunction with local roaster Kaldi’s Coffee Company, along with Bear’s Blend, which was voted on by students and is now a signature item.
During the holidays, Parkside sells seasonal coffee sets that include a Bear’s Blend branded mug, a bag of ground Bear’s Blend coffee and a chocolate and peppermint stirring stick. They have been a big hit with students as well as faculty and staff.
Baked goods on display in Parkside that were made in the campus bakery. Note the ordering kiosk unit in the background.
Parkside Café is open 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays with the grill operating 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the lunchtime crowd.
Dietitian Rebecca Miller emphasizes a direct line of communication that include one-on-one nutrition consultations where student needs can be pinpointed more directly. One result: adding a vegan and vegetarian panini option to the three-week menu rotation.
WashU’s Bear Balance program is designed to improve the nutrition quality and availability of food around campus by labeling certain menu items meeting specific criteria with the Bear Balance icon. Pictured is a Bear Balance Salmon Barbacoa Taco dish.
“Having the Parkside Cafe directly across the plaza from the Sumers Welcome Center provides visiting prospective students and families a convenient opportunity to get a taste of both WashU’s dining options and student life on campus,” notes Susan Kapp, assistant vice provost for admissions and aid.
The single stream system at WashU makes recycling simple and easy, providing the campus community with two primary options: recycle or landfill. The majority of everyday materials can be recycled in designated bins throughout the campuses and most major dining locations also include post-consumer compost collection for organic waste and compostable serviceware. WashU oversees an increasing array of composting initiatives that allow for food and other items to be reused as fertilizer instead of filling a landfill. For instance, kitchen scraps are composted from most dining facilities on campus.
During a typical week, WashU purchases over 9,000 pounds of local produce, protein and dairy to fuel the campus and support local farmers and businesses. “Parkside Cafe is committed to using fresh, high-quality meats, seasonal produce and made from-scratch menu items, all with a distinct local St. Louis flair,” offers Campus Executive Chef Patrick McElroy, shown here paying a visit to a local partner, Michael Gehman of Double Star Farms.
Customer satisfaction in Parkside is captured through tablets at each entrance/exit and through its Love Feedback XOXO campaign where guests will fill out the form and drop in a ballot box. These are then addressed by managers.
WashU Dining Services participates in the Nottingham Program, an education program partnership with the Nottingham CAJT High School that allows their students to come on campus and experience real life work so they are prepared to get a job after graduation.
Parkside Operations Manager Hayes Green (l.) and Sous Chef LaCrystal Coleman-Robinson are thrilled to be working at Parkside. “Parkside is truly unique...from its beautiful design, the location, menu, and flow. I love being the cafe’s manager,” Green enthuses. “Parkside brings a new vision to the campus. I love working with the food and especially the team,” adds Coleman-Robinson.