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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Aug. 13, 2009

New Seasons Marketplace showcases dining changes

by Erin Rosacker

The newly refurbished dining center at Maple-Willow-Larch is not the cafeteria you may remember from your college days. Named in part for the changing seasons of the year, Seasons Marketplace features six distinct food venues and showcases new concepts in residential dining.

After a couple weeks of practice runs to work out the kinks, Seasons Marketplace opens to the public for lunch on Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Where are the trays?

Don't waste time searching for a tray to fill up with an assortment of dishes. In response to student input, this facility is piloting a trayless system that reduces waste. Not only is there less to wash and sanitize, a trayless system also hinders food waste by diners who pile up food they won't eat.

The square plates used for a main course selection also have room to add individual side dishes available at the different venues. Three beverage stations are scattered around the seating perimeter, where diners can find drinks and utensils.

After eating, diners deposit utensils in a drop-chute and put plates on a conveyor belt similar to the one used at Union Drive Marketplace. Leftovers, including used napkins and packaging, are sent to a pulper -- essentially, an industrial-grade garbage disposal that spins out the liquid and turns the mess into a compact pile of pulp, which breaks down more quickly at the compost facility.

Seasons Marketplace

A 5,000-square-foot addition to the north side of the dining center created space for additional seating. Seasons Marketplace can hold 558 diners, down from the estimated 750 seats available in the former configuration. The Harvest dining room, which is equipped with audio/visual capabilities and can be reserved for meetings, seats an additional 84; or can be divided into two smaller conference rooms.

Seasons Marketplace

Simply H20, a selection of water infused on site with the flavors of fresh fruit and herbs, is unique to Seasons Marketplace. The flavor combinations -- such as strawberry melon, lime mint or simply apple -- change daily.

Seasons Marketplace

Seating areas, with both booths and movable tables, are surrounded by food venues and drink stations. Low ceilings, architectural lighting, warm woods and muted colors give Seasons Marketplace a homey feeling. Artistic touches follow a theme of nature's changing seasons.

Seasons Marketplace
Seasons Marketplace MWL
Seasons Marketplace

The Cocoa Bean venue looks more like a farmhouse kitchen than a food station. Diners can find breads, cereals, coffee and a build-your-own ice cream sundae bar in the nook. Cyclone waffle irons (above left) are fired up all day, and a granite countertop with chill zones (above right) keeps desserts, yogurt and other items cool.

Photos by Bob Elbert.


What, where and when

The six venues at Seasons Marketplace include:

  • Bonsai's (alternating international specialties, made-to-order omelets and quesadillas)
  • Bushel Basket (build-your-own and made-to-order salad bar and deli)
  • Cocoa Bean (fruit, breads, cereals, waffles, desserts)
  • Hickory's (smoked meats and home-style comfort foods)
  • Olive Branch (Italian dishes, including wood-fired pizzas)
  • Wood Grill (made-to-order grilled sandwiches and sides)

Seasons Marketplace is open for breakfast (6:45-9:30 a.m.), lunch (10:45 a.m.-2 p.m.) and dinner (4-7 p.m.) on weekdays. Brunch (10 a.m.-2 p.m.) and dinner (4-7 p.m.) are served on weekends and holidays -- that's right: a Sunday evening option. Cost is $7.25 (breakfast) or $9 (lunch/dinner) for visitors, or get a 10 percent discount when you use your staff charge. For more information, including daily menus, go online.