This year, students returning to campus were surprised to see an array of construction projects and updated facilities, including a new and improved Spa and Take 4 program.
The Spa, a popular place on campus for students to do homework and gather for meals, was remodeled this summer. A small stage has been constructed, which can be used for student and guest performances, and the architecture and furnishings have been entirely remodeled.
Concerns surrounding large gatherings last year limited both seating and available gathering options in the Spa. However, with nearly the entire student body vaccinated against COVID-19 and a rigorous testing and contact-tracing program in place, more furniture, tables, and booths have been moved into the space.
Smaller rooms in the Spa, which were previously closed, have also reopened to encourage more students to take full advantage of the space.
In addition to the physical changes to the appearance and functionality of the Spa, dining administrators expanded the Take 4 program and added an entirely new retail section. This section includes items for students to purchase such as protein shakes, energy drinks, candy bars, and frozen meals.
Students also have a cook-to-order, or exhibition, option for their entree. This station changes daily and is included in the meal plan.
“We combined Caporale’s and the original Spa into one program,” Richard Backstrom, General Manager of Colby Dining Services, told The Colby Echo. “It includes a full Take 4 program for the board plan as well as a full retail program.
“We’ve added, in addition to the sandwiches and salads and all the sides with the Take 4 program, an exhibition station at lunch,” he continued.
“In that station, we are doing stir fries, salad tossed to order, the grill station, and stuff like that, so we do a lot of different menu items that you could have as your main entree for Take 4.”
The Spa hours have also been expanded to 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. in response to the popularity of the Take 4 program. Students can use one meal swipe in the Spa for breakfast, lunch, and dinner in addition to the unlimited swipes available in the dining halls.
Late Night was recently reinstated as an option for students, open on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. The hours are 9:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. on weekdays and 9:00 p.m. to midnight on the weekends.
“We adjusted the hours based on what was happening in 2018 and 2019 and how much students were actually utilizing that space,” Backstrom said.
“Due to that information and staff shortages, we really have to adjust as well. We weren’t getting much use [of the Spa] on Sundays and Mondays.”
The Late Night menu has also been expanded to include new options and various specials.
“The Late Night menu … does have many of the same [items such as] quesadillas, chicken fingers, and stuff like that. We’ve also added three or four different sandwiches and a few specials,” Backstrom said.
Although Late Night closes earlier than it has in previous years, Backstrom assured that administrators will pay close attention to the needs of the students and adjust accordingly.
“As people start utilizing it more, we might expand the late night, but at this time due to staffing shortages, it’s not going to be feasible during this semester,” he explained.
“We don’t know what spring semester is going to hold, but … we’ve expanded the options, and it’s open all day and into the night [to ensure] there’s a lot of options [for students] at the Spa.”
Many students have noticed these updates, and opinions are mixed. Some students have expressed their frustration at the elimination of free Spa coffee.
“We don’t want to compete with Mary Low,” Backstrom said, referring to the student-run coffee house.
“We don’t want to take customers away from Mary Low, so the coffee program was put aside because we want to support Mary Low, which is a student-run program, and make sure it’s successful.”
Sofia Solari `23 expressed her appreciation of the improvements made to the Spa and menu selection.
“The Spa is such a great environment to eat with my friends before I go to class,” Solari said.
“I love all the new food options, and it makes me want to go to the Spa a lot more often. I’m also super happy with the Late Night food available on the weekends.”
Colby Dining will be releasing a survey this week to gather more feedback from students on their dining experiences.
~ Maura Thompson `24