New restaurants, renovations & menu updates
BY MADISON SCHOFIELD, STAFF WRITER
Mason Dining has several new options this semester as two new restaurants opened on campus. The Halal Guys, a Halal American restaurant that offers beef gyro, chicken, and falafel, and Flip Kitchen, Freshëns latest fast-casual restaurant, offering a dynamic menu ranging from noodle bowls to pasta bakes and more, opened their doors recently.
“We are excited to begin the semester with these new and improved dining options,” said Pascal Petter, Executive Director of Auxiliary Services – OBS. “We know these updates and enhancements to our program will help create a better and more inclusive dining experience for the Mason community.”
Student Government representative Zayd Hamid is ecstatic about the new options.
“Halal Guys, in particular, was a restaurant I have been interested in having on campus for quite some time,” said Hamid. “It’s important to me that students of all dietary needs have sufficient access to food they can enjoy. This holds true for Flip Kitchen as well due to that restaurant specializing in healthy wraps, international-inspired rice bowls, etc. Both new restaurants provide a welcome increased diversity of food options within retail dining.”
According to Mason government’s Undersecretary for Dining Services, Evanna Koury, Halal dining options have been in demand on campus for a long time.
“While the dining halls have recently begun providing consistent Halal options for students, not everyone has a meal plan. And for students that do, they deserve to explore different options just like their peers,” explained Koury. “The addition of Halal Guys is much more than opening a retail dining location; it’s a display of how deeply Mason values diversity and student feedback. I have several friends who practice Islam, and they feel excited with this step towards further inclusivity on campus.”
The new restaurants aren’t the only changes in dining on campus. Einstein Bros. renovated during winter break and reopened with a brand new look featuring a self-serve coffee station, digital menu screens, and more.
In addition, Southside is now offering a “Mason Mensch” cart. 6–8 pm Sunday through Thursday, students will now have a menu of Kosher food options. The cart is a collaborative project between Sodexo, Mason Hillel, and Char Bar restaurant, and it is progress on the Mason dining team’s goal of creating inclusive food options.
“After the success we had with providing Halal options at all three dining halls, the Mason Dining team and I knew that Kosher was the next step. Having dishes prepared in accordance with traditional Jewish laws is yet another positive stride towards inclusivity on campus,” explained Koury.
“We are thankful to the Mason administration for their true commitment to inclusion,” said Rabbi Ezra Wiemer, co-director of Chabad at GMU. “There’s a Jewish expression, ‘may we go from strength to strength!’ This is a huge milestone for the Jewish community, and we know that together with Mason Hillel, our community will continue to grow and strengthen.”
Hamid agrees that food options are an essential part of inclusion.
“Every Mason student should be able to have their dietary needs accommodated both within the dining halls and in retail dining,” said Hamid. “I feel that these changes, both within the dining halls and within retail locations, serve to ultimately improve the quality of life for students with special food needs. This is about accessibility and equity. So long as we keep showing up to the conversation table, we can build upon this progress together.”
Hamid also wanted to note that all students have a say and can be involved in dining. According to Hamid, the Student Culinary Council meets every third Friday from 2:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Ike’s Multipurpose Room and all are welcome.