New Cafe, New Food Options

Rotisserie chicken, quesadillas, and calzones, are just a few of the major additions to York College’s dining options under the direction of Henry McCants, York’s new food service director and executive chef. The changes, implemented at the beginning of the Fall 2014 semester are in response to complaints about the lack of variety and pricing of food.

McCants has been getting praise from workers who have worked at York for over 10 years.

“Under the new manager with Aladdin, it is excellent.” said cashier Marva Pedler.  “The customers come in, they praise us and it’s very professional.  He respects us and that’s what we weren’t getting under (prior management). We get a lot of respect, the workers, and with that we can relate out to customers much better. Greet them with a smile and feel comfortable what we’re doing.”

“I like him,” said cashier Brenda Williams.  “He’s very professional, he listens to us. The changes are very nice. Henry is nice, very different than before.”

With a culinary degree from SUNY Cobleskill and over 20 years of experience in the food industry, McCants takes much pride in his work and presentation. The entire cafeteria has been redecorated and two new cooks have been hired. Even suggestion cards can be seen by the Starbucks and cafeteria along with cards to contact McCants directly, something that was never expected and even shocked the current cafeteria staff.

“When I first came here I couldn’t believe this was a cafeteria,” said McCants, who began working at York in June, “The quality of food wasn’t to my standard.”

The student responses have been overwhelmingly positive.

“The food is actually edible now,” said senior Kevin Aponte, 20.

The new cafeteria menu also includes an omelette bar in the breakfast menu, and a revamped pizza station. The increase in variety comes from looking at local restaurants, McCants said. To make options all inclusive, all foods sold at Starbucks are kosher and the soup station serves both vegan and meat soup daily. Over the summer McCants brought in a Boar’s Head representative to come in and create special sandwiches specifically for York.

Along with the new food options there is now a Hershey’s milkshake machine, a larger variety of Pepsi products and there are now 50 different drink options across the campus including cold Starbucks beverages.

The increased variety is inspired by local food vendors and restaurants. “I look at what’s here and I look at what people are buying and what is my competition,” said McCants.  “So I just bring what they have outside in here and just make it a little bit better.”

To combat pricing complaints, McCant is implementing frequent buyer cards for both the cafeteria and Starbucks and plans to run coupons and meal voucher cards in Pandora’s Box.

The options may change as the semester progresses.

“I’ll make adjustments as we go along. We don’t know what everybody wants unless we offer,” said McCants. “We’ll see what sells first and we cut back here and there. We all benefit.”

Aside from the college, McCants now caters to the daycare and pre-k across campus as well as the Queens High School for the Sciences.