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Hicks Cafeteria

10 Insider Tips for Navigating the Dining Halls

Like every college campus, Grove City College has its own insider secrets, quirky trends, and unspoken rules.

When it comes to the dining halls, it’s a whole new ballgame. Dining halls in general can be a little overwhelming. There are so many food options, and it can be a task in and of itself just finding where the silverware is located. Here are a few helpful tips and some insider knowledge for when it comes to eating in the dining halls.

1. No trays. You’ll see trays available by the silverware but hardly any students use them. In fact, trays tend to be a dead giveaway that you’re new to campus.

2. Reserve your table with a wallet, phone, or ID. When you walk into either dining hall you’ll see wallets strewn across tables. This means that the table is taken. In other words, unless the wallet belongs to your friend you should keep walking. This is normal. At other schools, students may get their food first and then find a place to sit. Not at Grove City College. It’s an unspoken rule that you reserve your table by leaving a phone, wallet, jacket, or backpack and returning to your reserved spot once you have gotten your food. (Leave your belongings at your own risk, but we’ve never seen them get taken!)

3. Avoid going to meals on the hour. The dining halls are busiest at noon on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and during dinner hours on Sunday. It can be a madhouse and sometimes it is impossible to find an open place to sit. My suggestion is to arrive to your meal 10 minutes before the hour. For example, if you’re meeting a friend for lunch on Wednesday at noon, if possible one of you should go in at 11:50 a.m. and grab a table. This works because many students are just getting out of class at 11:50 a.m. and will then make their way to lunch. Show up 10 minutes early and beat the rush!

4. Silverware in the gluten free section. When the dining halls get busy, it’s not uncommon for silverware to be in short supply. If you find yourself unable to find a fork or knife, try looking in the gluten free section. There is typically a full stash that has been untouched!

5. Avoid stir fry during one-on-one meals. Stir fry is awesome. You can pick your add-ins, the meat, and the kind of noodles. However, because this option is fresh and made-to-order, it typically takes a while. If there is a line for stir fry this option can take even longer. If you made plans to get a meal with one other friend, save stir fry for another time. If you’re eating with a group, that’s a different story. Avoid leaving your lone friend hanging at the table by themselves for 15 minutes while you get your stir fry fix.

6. Get creative. Don’t feel limited by what you see. If you can’t find something that interests your taste buds that day then get creative! Here are some ideas!

  • Get grilled chicken from the grill line and put it on a salad.
  • Use a bagel from the toaster section to make a sandwich on the panini press.
  • Make buffalo chicken dip. Get chicken from the grill line, cream cheese from the toaster section and the rest of the ingredients at the salad bar. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and pop it in the microwave. Voila!
  • Pour sweetened coffee over ice cubes and half-and-half for a creamy iced coffee.
  • Make a grilled pizza. Put some pepperoni and cheese between two pieces of french bread (from the bread section) and grill it on the panini press. Dip it in marinara sauce from the pasta section.
  • Steam your own veggies by grabbing some veggies from the salad bar and putting them in a bowl with a splash of water. Cover the bowl and microwave.

7. Get the chili. The dining halls are known for having pretty good chili. If you see it on the menu then get it!

8. Cookies. If you’re in the mood for a soft chewy cookie in a variety of flavors, head to MAP dining hall for lunch. They tend to have a great array of cookies baked to perfection.

9. MAP vs. Hicks: Students debate which dining hall is better. It is really a matter of preference. Both dining halls are catered by Bon Appetit. However, there are differences. Check out the great things about both!

  • MAP
    • Amazing cookies.
    • Normally there are wraps during lunch hours, and they always have subs during lunch
    • Homier atmosphere, not as loud as Hicks.
    • Sometimes they do Sushi.
    • Fun kinds of pizza (ex. Hawaiian, bacon ranch, buffalo chicken, etc.)
    • Shorter lines
  • Hicks
    • Better ice cream flavors
    • Grilled chicken and burger options at every meal.
    • Stir fry
    • Smoothies and milkshakes.
    • Breakfast for dinner on Friday nights.
    • Bigger salad bar.

10. Leave your backpack outside the dining hall. Most students will leave their backpacks outside the dining hall in a cubby, on a hook, or sitting in the entryway. It makes tables less crowded when you don’t have to figure out where to place your backpack!

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