Students mostly give positive reviews, some price reviews
Three new retail restaurant vendors – BibimBox, Carolicious, and Las Palmas – opened in the Lobdell Dining Room at the Stratton Student Center on September 9.
A restaurant sneak peek took place on September 8, when “hundreds of students and community members got to sample food from the vendors,” MIT Dining manager Mark Hayes wrote in an email to Technology.
Students voted on vendors to replace Cafe Spice, Shawarma Shack, and Shinkansen Bullet Train in May 2021 as part of the Commonwealth Kitchen Launchpad; MIT is partnering with Commonwealth Kitchen, a nonprofit food business incubator, to support local minority-owned businesses.
A sign in Lobdell Dining states that the goal of the partnership is to “bring diverse and authentic flavors” to MIT while “creating powerful opportunities for local food businesses owned by BIPOC.”
Bibim Box serves Korean-inspired entrees with prices ranging from $ 9.99 to $ 12.99. Las Palmas serves Dominican cuisine, with entrees ranging from $ 9 to $ 12. Carolicious serves Venezuelan arepas and bowls, with prices from $ 7.50 to $ 13.50.
The vendors also each have their own selection of drinks and desserts.
Hayes wrote that “early social media feedback has been positive” and that MIT Dining is working with the Undergraduate Association to include retail restaurants in its restaurant satisfaction survey.
Technology also spoke with the students who dine at Lobdell about their experiences with the new vendors.
Kevin Pho ’22 said in an interview with Technology that after trying all the vendors’ food he would be more likely to order in Las Palmas. Pho added that he believed the prices of the three new suppliers were higher and the portions were smaller than those of the previous suppliers.
Pho noted that he preferred these more affordable options when looking for a meal at Lobdell’s.
Anirudh Rahul ’24 wrote in an email to Technology that although he appreciates “Bibim’s unique Korean perspective[Box] provides, its prices seem a bit high.
Rahul also added that although “the BibimBox menu appears to have a lot of options, it appears that only a few options on the menu are actually meant to be ordered.”
Teresa Xiao, a student enrolled at Wellesley College, said in an interview with Technology that the food served at Lobdell Dining is “really good, compared to the food at Wellesley”.
Andrew Hutchison ’25 said in an interview with Technology that he appreciates the “different cultural foods” in Lobdell Dining and the variety of food in the dining room. Hutchison added that the food in Lobdell was better than in his dining room.
In addition to the opening of new restaurants, the interior of Lobdell Dining has been updated with new furniture and a mural by Boston-based Colombian artist Felipe Ortiz. The mural, created specifically for Lobdell, features scenes from nature and features butterflies and birds from Korea and Latin America to represent the cuisine served by vendors.
Haemin Paik, a postdoctoral associate, said in an interview with Technology that the changes to Lobdell Dining are an improvement on its last opening in Spring 2020. “The interior is much brighter. I was reluctant to come before, but it’s better now.
The three newly opened vendors are all open from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm on weekdays; Las Palmas stays open until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday. While none of the vendors are open on weekends, Hayes wrote that MIT Dining hopes to “announce a rotating weekend schedule for Launchpad vendors” online and on social media. Students can find updated information on retail restaurants on the Division of Student Life website.