With Butterfield Dining Hall closed for renovations, Mainfare, Ram’s Den and other combo meal locations will be picking up the slack for students with meal plans next semester.
Though Butterfield will remain open for the remainder of the fall semester, the facility will be closed completely come February due to construction moving indoors. According to Dining Services Director Steve Mello, changes will be made to Mainfare Dining Hall’s and “Grab ‘n Go” combo meal locations’ schedules to better provide students will all three daily meals.
On weekdays, Mainfare will now serve breakfast from 7 a.m., to 10:30 a.m., with omelets, make-your-own Belgian waffles and a breakfast bar among its offerings. Lunch will also begin a half hour earlier at 11 a.m. Mainfare’s weekend schedule will not be altered.
For the dinner crowds, Ram’s Den in the Memorial Union will be converted into an all-you-can-eat style dining hall starting at 4 p.m., lasting until 8 in the evening. The usual retail offerings will still be available until 3:30 p.m., after which student patrons will either need a meal plan or have to pay the full dinner price for entry. Mello said the offerings will be a combination of Ram’s Den’s standard fare alongside favorites from Butterfield.
“We’re going to have Jump open like we have during the day,” he said. “We’re going to have the deli and the burgers, but we’re going to add hot entrees that we have at Butterfield. We’re going to have some of the favorites at night like mozzarella sticks and chicken nuggets – the things that make people want to go to Butterfield.” Specials like an all-you-care-to-take sushi bar will also be offered from time to time.
For Ram’s Den regulars looking for something lighter at dinnertime, both Rhody Market and Ram Escape will extend their schedules into the evening this spring. Rhody Market will provide combo meals until 10 p.m., and Ram Escape wil not close until 8 p.m., on weeknights. “We’re going to keep the Ram Escape open just as late as the Ram’s Den is open,” Mello said. “So those evening students or commuters who just want a little snack or beverage can go over to the Ram Escape and get that.”
As Mainfare will be the only dining hall open during lunch hours, Mello suggests more students should turn to Grab ‘n Go locations for midday meals. Starting this spring, students with plus and premium meal plans will be able to get combo meals at Ronzio’s Pizza in the Memorial Union at lunchtime. Between 11 a.m., and 2 p.m., on weekdays, students can get two slices of cheese or pepperoni pizza and a medium Coke as part of their plan. While there will not be a soft serve machine, students with any meal plan can stop in to the Corner Store at Hope Commons for a free ice cream novelty between 11 a.m., and 3:30 p.m.
Mello said he believes the additional options for combo meals will make up for the lack of a second dining hall at lunch, especially due to the large number of students with plus or premium meal plans. “Right now we have about 5,300 people on resident meal plans, he said. “Of the 5,300, only 1,000 have the plan that doesn’t have combos. We think that most people will be able to utilize the [Grab ‘n Go] service to go eat somewhere else at lunch.”
According to Mello, there are usually a lower number of students with meal plans during the spring semester than during the fall, with the number dropping by around 600 students between semesters for each of the last five years.
“Either they move off campus, they join a sorority or fraternity or they just withdraw from school,” Mello said. “Add to that, in the spring, their eating habits are a little different when they start getting into February. So normally I believe Mainfare could handle that amount of people if people will start eating at the other places.”
Mello is also considering limiting dining hall patronage to URI students and their guests to keep from overcrowding. “Sometimes we do have some outsiders that come into the dining halls at lunch in groups like from high schools and things like that,” he said. “I probably won’t allow that in the spring.”