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Greenfields undergoes renovation

Victoria Jacobsen | Friday, January 21, 2011

When customers return to Greenfields Café in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies this semester, they will find renovations have made the campus eatery hard to recognize.

Many aspects of the café — from the décor to the menu — have been modified with the goal of improving convenience and healthy eating options while lessening negative impact on the environment.

Greenfields has not been given a full renovation since the Hesburgh Center opened in 1991. In addition to giving the café a more modern feel, the changes are aimed at making the ordering process more user-friendly, executive chef of the University Donald Miller said.

“If someone is busy and wants to work at their desk, they can avoid standing in a long line, which we’ve been known to have,” Miller said. “Or, they can sit down at their leisure, so it’s adding a new dimension of service.”

In order to cut down on long lines and increase meal options, Greenfields now offers a hot cereal bar for breakfast and a soup bar during lunch hours, as well as various pre-packaged a la carte items.

The new décor is made almost exclusively of recycled or sustainable materials. The sides of the counters, for example, are made of pressed sorghum, while each chair is made of 111 recycled Coke bottles.

The effort to increase sustainability extends to the menu itself. The containers that package the to-go products are recyclable, and almost all the ingredients for menu items are locally produced, which cuts down on environmental impact caused by transportation.

Greenfields executive chef Karen Reynolds described the changes at Greenfields Café as part of a University-wide trend.

“As a campus, the initiative is to go for more locally grown products and to become more sustainable altogether,” Reynolds said.

The increased emphasis on healthy meal options on the new menu is likewise a response to initiatives on the part of the University.

“This is an extension of the University’s overall initiative for wellness. This is something they envisioned,” Miller said. “The University is definitely interested in having people live healthier lifestyles, for a lot of reasons.”

The menu options are mostly comprised of low-fat and organic foods, and taste was an important factor in designing the menu, Miller said.

“Our goal is to give great flavor profiles, so that people come not because it’s healthy but because it tastes good,” he said.

Reynolds was optimistic about customer reception of the changes at Greenfields.

“I hope that we get more [customers], Reynolds said. “I hope people are interested in eating better and trying some healthy food.”