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Around the Columns

Having fun with food

Plaza 900 Bengal Rock Party

Servers hit the dance floor for the Plaza 900 Bengal Rock Party in April. Photo by Rachel Coward

Dinner in a dining hall can become a routine for students. You swipe in, stand in line, sit down and eat. But on April 6, 2012, that all changed with the Bengal Rock Party at Plaza 900. The hall served fan favorites (students had voted for their favorite menu items in advance). The video game Dance, Dance, Revolution drew a steady stream of customers looking to win an Xbox 360. The Golden Girls and Truman the Tiger also made an appearance — in a flash mob.

It’s one of Campus Dining Services’ theme nights. CDS developed the special nights to regenerate interest in the dining facility experience. Each facility comes up with a theme, a special menu and activities or entertainment for customers. 

For the Bengal Rock Party, Plaza 900 sous chef Brian Lambiotte wanted to give customers the feeling of a concert. “That’s where the ‘fan favorite’ items came from,” he says. “We gave them what they wanted — the best of everything.” As for the entertainment at the Bengal Rock Party, servers spent their spare time preparing a flash mob dance. At 6 p.m. sharp, the folks usually charged with serving food offered their dose of live entertainment.

The themes do draw diners. In March, Rollins dining facility held an Ozark-themed night, complete with barbeque and flannel-clad servers. Rollins served 20 percent more customers during the event than a normal night.

But what are CDS customers saying about the events? Overheard in Plaza 900 during the Bengal Rock Party: “awesome,” “totally unexpected,” “definitely something different,” “fresh,” “makes dinner fun” and “looks like I’m getting seconds.”