A Q&A with Parkhurst’s GM

When General Manager Jeff Smock arrived on campus to oversee the transition to Heidelberg’s new food service partner Parkhurst Dining, he didn’t realize what a busy and challenging summer it would be. As the school year approaches, Jeff is enthusiastic about unveiling a new era in dining on campus.

Here, Jeff gets into detail about the transition and what students can expect from Parkhurst at Hoernemann, Fireside Café and Pub and Rock Creek Express when they return.

Q: Parkhurst took over on June 1. What’s the transition been like for your team?

A: It’s been good … very smooth, considering the challenges with the weather and construction. The food’s good. In many ways, we’re still in training. We brought in some chefs from Allegheny College and Mercyhurst College to help, and that gave our employees a boost in confidence. We’ll have more trainers coming in August to train on the various stations.

Q: What changes will students see inside Hoernemann Refectory?

A: The dining room looks fantastic. Back five weeks ago, there were huge, deep trenches all over. It’s pretty exciting how far we’ve come in a short time. Students will use the same entrance and use the same process to scan their card. The big difference is that we offer an “all you care to eat” program. Essentially, you could swipe 50 times a day and eat all day. We’ll have a breakfast bar, a dessert table, a coffee bar and an allergy-free station.

The former Aramark Room has been completely opened up for seating. It’s now called the Lower Dining Room. Heidelberg colors are starting to emerge when you look around Hoernemann.

Q: We’ve heard a lot about the salad bar.

A: Yes, the salad bar will be grand. It’s going to be really neat. It’s centrally located and anchors what feels like an upscale food court to me. We’ll have cutting bars where we’ll prep and chop while students watch. There will be a wall of greens and a soup bar, too. Everything – the vegetables and all the fruits – will be as fresh as possible and all the soups are made from scratch.

Q: Talk a little bit about The Kitchen and The Deli.

A: The Kitchen will feature a rotisserie, wok, smoker, flat top, charbroil and six-top burner and oven. We’ll be able to cook right in front of students. In The Deli, we’ll be serving fresh, hot, made-to-order sandwiches with alternating dinner options throughout the week.

Q: The Oven is another focal point. What makes it awesome?

A: We’re going to do more than pizzas in The Oven, although there will be pizza every day, made while you watch. We’ll be able to do casseroles and other baked items, too.

Q: What do you think will surprise students the most?

A: The renovations will be the first thing people notice off the bat. And then, I think they’ll really enjoy the food. When they understand how it’s prepared, they’re going to be very surprised. And the size of the salad bar is impressive.

Q: The serving hours have expanded for better access, correct?

A: Yes. We really think this will make a huge difference, not only for student-athletes but for everyone. We’ll be open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. weekdays and we’ll have expanded hours on weekends. Some stations – probably the salad bar, deli bar and pizza oven – will be available all the time. There will always be a cook there who can make you something if you want it.

Q: There’s big news about Fireside Café Pub, too.

A: Fireside’s name is changing. In August, it will become Berg Bistro 1850. It will include more Heidelberg memorabilia and a new coffee service, Crimson Cup. Dinner items are being added to the menu and we’re developing a signature drink. Everything will be made fresh … burgers will be hand-pressed, fries will be fresh cut, we’ll hand-bread everything. We’ll still offer beer and wine, but those will not be front and center any more.

Q: And what about Rock Creek Express?

A: We’ll continue with the grab-and-go theme of Rock Creek, but we’ll be expanding the hours to 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Monday-Friday. You can sit and enjoy or take your food with you. We’ll have the same menu of wraps, sandwiches, soups and salads, but we’ll be adding 3-4 platters that you can heat here or take home. Bottled drinks, chips and other necessities will still be available in the C-store. We’re planning to offer some special events and promotions, so stay tuned.

So whether you like comfort food, a specialized meal (vegan, gluten-free) or want to try something new, Parkhurst is ready to meet your dining expectations. Read more about Heidelberg and Parkhurst’s mutual goal to provide the best possible dining experience with nutritious food, lots of variety and healthy options every day.

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