Opinion: Crave NYU is better because it has a different food provider

The new Crave NYU dining hall proves that the university can do food right. Why not have Sous Vide Kitchen as the primary provider in the rest of the dining halls?


Echo Chen

File photo: The Downstein dining hall. (Echo Chen for WSN)

Naisha Roy, Deputy Opinion Editor

After the third time I received burnt Cluckstein chicken nuggets, I promised myself I would never eat there again. When NYU announced the opening of a new dining hall in the Paulson Center, Crave NYU, I was first in line. I needed a break from disasters like those nuggets.

I ordered at Crave NYU with my expectations low, but was pleasantly surprised. The ingredients were fresh, and the staff was amazing. I learned that it’s operated by Sous Vide Kitchen, a virtual, kiosk-based food hall that caters to several college campuses. Chartwells, a higher education dining service, provides food to the rest of the NYU dining halls and is a brand partner with SVK. The difference in quality of food between the two providers proves that NYU can, in fact, offer a much better experience than it does at many on-campus dining locations — it just needs to switch fully to SVK.

The discrepancy between the two providers isn’t something only I’ve noticed. WSN’s own coverage paints starkly different pictures of Chartwells and SVK. Chartwells was incompetent during the pandemic, consistently providing low quality and unsanitary food. On the other hand, Crave received a shining review from WSN’s food writers shortly after its opening. SVK’s 3.6 star review online trumps Chartwells measly one-star rating.

“Crave NYU, which features offerings from SVK, is a brand partner of Chartwells — such relationships are not uncommon in university dining because they offer students more choices,” wrote Ronni Mandell, the senior director of marketing at NYU Campus Services, in an email to WSN. “The purpose of this partnership is to bring innovative high quality restaurant a la carte style cuisine to the NYU Community.”

Despite the two providers being partners, they serve completely different consumer groups. In addition to its locations in universities, SVK has an actual food hall located near the Flatiron District, open to the general public. It is affected by reviews outside of just student complaints. This motivates the company to provide quality food because people outside of the university are choosing to pay to eat the same items that students pay for via meal plans. 

Chartwells, on the other hand, caters exclusively to higher education. This means that even if the quality of their food is subpar, students don’t have alternative options if they’re on a meal plan. NYU requires all first-years living on campus to purchase a meal plan, so no matter how much we dislike the food, we still have to pay for it

Crave NYU still has some of the same issues as the other halls: long wait times, lack of seating and occasionally misplaced orders. However, a lot of this can be attributed to the fact that the Paulson Center is new and popular.NYU needs to switch more dining halls to SVK, which has proven that it prioritizes quality food. Even SVK’s namesake, the sous vide method of cooking juicy meat, is the epitome of consistency and precision in food. Cluckstein could never.

WSN’s Opinion section strives to publish ideas worth discussing. The views presented in the Opinion section are solely the views of the writer.

Contact Naisha Roy at [email protected].