POGGI | Eulogy for the Mac's Salad

Daily Sun

Everyone has their routines. The unchanging route you take to class. Laundry on Tuesdays and grocery shopping on Saturdays. Sock, sock, shoe, shoe. One of my favorite routines of my past two years at Cornell has been my weekly Mac’s salad. The customization options created a meal tailored to your tastes; if you ignored the BRB acceptance and the Statler interior, one could almost imagine this was an off-campus meal. So when I returned to campus this fall, excited to indulge in one of my most grounding routines, I was dismayed to see the salad bar had been replaced by grab-and-go options. I reached out to Cornell Dining to learn more.

Thomas Gisler, Director of Food and Beverage at The Statler Hotel, commented the following:

“We have been successfully running the chopped salad station at Mac’s Café for ten years. In recent years, our guests voiced a need for grab & go options on our menu offerings to decrease wait times during peak periods. We have been asked to start menu items for the new grab & go options at Mac’s this semester and the chopped salad station was the logical go-to approach to deliver that request. The “Mac’s to Go” items are constantly evolving and have been very popular.”

While I can agree that grab and go options were needed, and that the wait times were often long, I do not see why the salad station could not have coexisted with additional options. I cannot help but wonder if staffing may also be an issue, as previous complaints of low pay and staffing shortages from dining workers seem to be unresolved. I believe that more transparency from the Mac’s administration may have eased the transition and left fewer students surprised. 

When chatting with fellow regulars at Mac’s, none of us could recall alerts of the change, nor opportunities to voice feedback. I believe that reducing options at the station and increasing staff may have solved the issues without the need to forgo what has been a staple of Cornell dining for a decade.

Unlike grab-and-go food, customizable options allow flexibility for a variety of dietary preferences and needs, increasing food accessibility. Moreover, personal interactions with dining workers facilitated conversations between students and locals and allowed regular patrons to get to know the people serving them. The increasing depersonalization of food service at the Statler is antithetical to the Nolan School’s claim that “Our business is Hospitality.”

I mourn the tender salmon, fresh greens and seasonal toppings, all carefully chopped and homogenized into a “fiber bomb” to remedy any college-diet-induced nutritional deficiencies. I miss the friendly workers who made every bowl with kindness and care despite long lines. The salad station never disappointed me and was a mainstay in my two years at Cornell. 

Despite never having class in the Statler, or even close to the Hotel school, I would always make the trek for the salad bar, even during evening hours, to carry me through late nights studying before a prelim. Without a comparable fast-casual salad restaurant in Collegetown, such as a Sweetgreen, Chopt or CAVA, the Mac’s station satisfied my need for cruciferous crunch and was a routine addition to my diet. While Terrace has great alternatives during lunch hours — check out their salad bar or new curry station — the Mac’s salad will be forever missed.

Julia Poggi is a third year student in the College of Agriculture & Life Sciences. Her fortnightly column The Outbox is a collection of reflections, advice and notes to self about life at Cornell, with a focus on coursework-life balance. She can be reached at [email protected].

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