Bethel Focus

Not Your Daddy's Cafeteria

Spring 2009

Monson Dining Center

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Gone are the choice-less days of meat, potatoes, and Jell-O*. And institutional meals where going back for seconds—even if you wanted to—wasn’t an option.In are the days of made-to-order salads, authentic brick-oven pizzas of all varieties, and Asian stir-fry made with the vegetables of your choice. And feel free to grab that second dessert.

The spacious, new David E. and Mary Jo Monson Dining Center in Brushaber Commons is a far cry from the basement kitchen and spartan dining hall in which your grandparents may have eaten on the old Snelling Avenue campus of Bethel Academy and Bethel Seminary. Now, the dining center alone features six stations with international fare: “Piatti de Pasta” for pasta and deli sandwiches; “The Carvery” for traditional meat and vegetable meals; “Ensalada” for fresh fruit, salads, and soups; “Piatta Italiano” for pizza, calzones, and other favorite Italian meals; “Explore” for Asian food; and “Braaivleis” (Afrikaaner for “grill”) for burgers and quesadillas. In addition to these options is the Royal Grounds coffee shop, with lattes, smoothies, and yogurt; and the 3900 Grill offering paninis and subs (and killer snickerdoodles). Lines may actually be longer at these venues because students need more time to debate their myriad options!

And now students can eat as healthily (or not) as they’d like. Did you know that years ago the fare was slabs of steak and heavy mashed potatoes for lunch? That was it. Who needed vegetables, anyway?

There’s also no need to stress about when to eat. The Dining Center is open more than 11 hours most days and Royal Grounds is open until 1 a.m. Monday through Friday. So, study, sleep, or hang out when you want. There will always be food available. 

Take a walk down memory lane, from the old campus’s Bodien dining hall to the not-so-old Market Square in the lower level of the Hagstrom Center to the gleaming, two-story, scenic, dining center in the Brushaber Commons overlooking Lake Valentine. This is not your daddy’s cafeteria, but feel free to invite your daddy to lunch! 

*In the early '60s, Bethel cooks introduced a new tangy Jell-O salad, tomato aspic: mashed stewed tomatoes and lemon Jell-O gelled to hold assorted vegetables including celery and olives. Not liking the dish - at all - students rebelled one day and stacked their plates of tomato aspic on the dishroom counter.