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The words cafeteria, institutional and lunch lady have been replaced by restaurant-like, upscale and chef at Iowa State University’s newly renovated residential dining establishment. From the food to the décor, everything in Seasons Marketplace screams fresh.


The former Maple-Willow-Larch Dining Center. Seasons Marketplace used to be the Maple-WillowLarch Dining Center (MWL). The facility was built in 1969 in the center of three large residence halls. At the time MWL was built, it was hailed as one of the finest dining facilities of its kind and featured four cafeteria lines. Fast forward 40 years and the students of today were calling it a dark dungeon. After a year-long renovation, MWL has been transformed. “That cave has opened up and blossomed into an amazing place,” said ISU Dining Director Nancy Levandowski. “It’s not about lines or inflexibility. It’s about beauty, comfort, ambiance and fresh food.” As you enter Seasons Marketplace, the menu of the day is displayed on the flat-screen monitor above the granite-topped checker’s stand. On your way to the dining room, you pass by Sticks® artwork that reflects the seasons of the year. The scent of smoked meat wafts from Hickory’s, international cuisine is being served at Bonsai’s, pizzas are firing in the Olive Branch’s oven, grilled sandwiches are being prepared at the Wood Grill, a colorful salad bar and deli are waiting at the Bushel Basket and fresh locally-roasted coffee is brewing in the Cocoa Bean. These six stations serve a large variety of fresh foods. “I have basically said that if I come in and the warmer boxes are stocked full of food, it’s going in the trash because we’re going to make it fresh,” said Levandowski. “We talked about how students will wait slightly longer than they have in the past to get fresh food cooked-to-order.” The freshness began with training. Executive Chef, Everett Phillips, focused on training the staff in true justin-time cooking. “We cook and we serve. We don’t cook, hold and then serve,” said Phillips. “When they see people

A new addition full of windows brought in much-needed natural light. streaming through the door, they increase production. When it starts thinning out, our staff backs off which results in less waste and fresher food.” Some of the Seasons Marketplace employees were used to preparing food in the kitchen and not being in front of the students. “In the past, there wasn’t much interaction between students and staff because the food was ready to take,” said Phillips. “Now, students ask questions and there’s a more personal touch to the style of service we provide.” Service, freshness and variety are all in the foundation of Seasons Marketplace’s philosophy with the final piece being sustainability. Seasons Marketplace is ISU Dining’s first trayless dining center and the impact has been immediate. “The trayless trend was on the horizon but we

Food is cooked at each station in front of customers. knew that our students didn’t have total buy-in,” said Levandowski. Seasons Marketplace was designed so that it could easily go trayless. “While it was being built, we did trayless education in our other marketplace facility,” said Levandowski. “The governing body of our students put forth a resolution to make Seasons Marketplace trayless when we opened it. Because it was built to handle trayless, it was as simple as picking out different dishes.” Food and other compostable waste are sent through a pulper where the water is spun out and the remaining food particles go into a bucket. The pulp is then sent to Iowa State University’s compost facility where it breaks down more quickly than traditional food waste. “In the foodservice market, not many universities have the ability to study trayless the way we can. Seasons Marketplace is trayless and has a pulper. Our other marketplace is not trayless and doesn’t have a pulper,” said Levandowski. “Right now, there’s less food waste per person in Seasons and we’ll continue to collect and study the data.” Because students made the commitment to go trayless in Seasons Marketplace, Levandowski made a commitment to the student government that onepercent of every person’s meal plan who dines at Seasons Marketplace will go into a fund. At the end of the year, that money will be given to the student government to do with as they please. “We believe this amount could be as much as $70,000,” said Levandowski. “They can write a check to

a food bank, bring a concert to campus, put the money into converting our other dining center to trayless—it’s up to them. What’s important to me is showing that we realize there is a savings and that we are giving that back to the students.” The approximately 3,400 meals being served each day are a testament to the success of Seasons Marketplace. “Students seem to really like it,” said Bethany Landon, manager of Seasons Marketplace. “They’re not shy about letting us know what they think and, overall, comments have been great! It makes all the hard work and planning of the whole team worthwhile.” Up next for ISU Dining is the renovation of another dining center, Oak-Elm. By August 2010, all of Iowa State’s residential dining centers will have been built from the ground up or renovated in the past seven years.

Top: The Cocoa Bean serves coffee, pastries and desserts. Left: A pulper turns waste into a material that is more easily composted. Bottom: Students have a choice of three different greens and many toppings at the Bushel Basket.


Seasons Marketplace was designed to operate with or without trays. Due to an educational campaign during construction, the student government asked ISU Dining to open Seasons Marketplace as a trayless facility. Because of the students’ commitment, ISU Dining will give one percent of all students’ meal plans who dine at Seasons Marketplace to the student governing body to do with as they please.


Top: Dishes are put on the dishbelt and silverware is put through a chute where it lands in a soapy water bin to soak (left).

Pre and post consumer food waste and compostable napkins, bowls and utensils are put through a pulper. The pulp weighs less and is more easily composted. Nancy Levandowski shows Iowa State University President, Gregory Geoffroy, how the pulper works.

COMPOSTING Pulp is sent to Iowa State University’s compost facility. ISU Dining is charged by the weight of their product to have it composted. At the other marketplace-style dining center, compost goes directly to the compost facility and weighs neary two times as much as the pulp from Seasons Marketplace.

Above: ISU Dining began composting in two dining centers and the commissary kitchen. Staff members toured Iowa State’s compost facility to see the process first hand. Left: An educational display of raw food waste, pulp and the finished product of compost was on display during the grand opening of Seasons Marketplace. Right: Two thousand educational t-shirts talking about food waste, the benefits of trayless and the process of composting were given away at the grand opening celebration.

Left: Simply H2O is the name of Seasons Marketplace’s hydration station. Water is naturally infused with real fruits. Staff have fun mixing new flavors and students can’t get enough of the flavored water!


At Bonsai’s, made-to-order breakfast items are served in the morning and the menu switches to international cuisine for lunch and dinner.

With a salad bar on one side and a deli on the other, the Bushel Basket is the place to be for create-your-own sandwiches and salads. A sandwich, salad and soups of the day are also featured.

The heart of a home is the kitchen. Cocoa Bean was designed to look like an upscale cozy kitchen where students can find ice cream, premium locally-roasted coffee, desserts, breads, fruits and more.

This venue features a large smoker and carving station where students can experience smoked fish, steak and more. Homestyle sides are also served at Hickory’s.

Pizza flavors like buffalo chicken and Hawaiian fly out of the wood-stone oven. Pasta dishes are featured each day and breadsticks are a menu staple.

Head over to the grill where you’ll find specialty sandwiches, burgers made your way and sides like sweet potato fries.

The Harvest Room can be reserved free of charge for campus groups. It seats 80 people, has audio/visual equipment and is a a popular spot for meetings.

SEASONS MARKETPLACE SUMMARY Stations: 6 Square Footage: 24,922 | includes a 4,400 square-foot addition Number of Seats: Approximately 600 Meals Served per Day: Breakfast: 525 | Lunch: 1,200 | Dinner: 1,650 Meals Served per Day in Former Facility: Breakfast: 250 | Lunch: 650 | Dinner: 875 (approximate counts, spring 2008)

Operating Budget: $5,834,194 Cost to Build: $258 per square foot ($6,429,876) $1,746,280 - equipment $275,000 - smallwares $8,451,156 - Total cost to build

EAST CAMPUS RENOVATION PROJECT ISU Dining’s $15-million east campus renovation project began with the renovation and expansion of the east campus convenience store, East Side Market. Seasons Marketplace completed the second and largest phase of the project and currently, Oak-Elm (a smaller east campus facility) is under construction. Oak-Elm will re-open in August 2010. At the end of the renovation, all of ISU Dining’s residential dining centers will have been built from the ground up or renovated in the past decade.

ISU DINING SUMMARY Location: Ames, Iowa | Iowa State University Student Population: 27,945 Residential Dining Locations: 3 Retail Locations: 14 | Food Court, restaurant, 9 cafes and 3 convenience stores Full Service Catering Vending Commissary Kitchen Bakery Food Stores Total Operating Budget: $32,000,000

CONTACT INFORMATION If you’d like to follow up on any of the information in this packet or learn more, please contact:



515-294-6243 (OFFICE) 515-460-5164 (CELL) BRITTYL@IASTATE.EDU


Seasons Marketplace  

Iowa State University Dining's Seasons Marketplace opened this fall (2009) and features fresh cuisine, an upscale feeling and many green ini...

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