Yale Dining officially opened the redesigned Café Med on Sept. 28.
The cafe, previously known as Marigolds, had been closed for renovations since June. The most notable changes include the customizable, health-focused menu and the layout of the seating area. Even the new name serves a dual purpose, representing both its location at the medical school and the Mediterranean focus of its new menu, according to Adam Millman, director of auxiliary operations at Yale Dining.
“The concept — fresh, healthy bowls on a foundation of greens, grains, pita and inspired by the bold flavors of the Mediterranean — that’s sort of what we’re focused on here,” Millman said. According to Millman, the cafe is now a combination of a made-to-order salad station and a Chipotle-style pick-your-own service. Customers pick a base for their dishes — either grains, greens or a pita — and can then add a “flavor explosion”: spicy feta, charred eggplant, hummus or haydari — a yogurt-based sauce. Customers can finish off their meals with a skewer — either spicy meatballs, Moroccan chicken or falafel — extra toppings and a sauce.
The cafe continues to serve ready-made sandwiches and snacks, all made from healthy and natural ingredients. Other hot food items, such as soups and stews, are also available. The cafe also has a new coffee machine, and the most popular new option has been the freshly squeezed juice, Millman said.
“People taste the orange juice and they are impressed by the difference between a packaged orange juice and one that’s squeezed fresh,” Millman said. “That machine cuts the orange, squeezes it and with that we build the juice. There’s one called the ‘detox,’ which focuses on turmeric, ginger, cayenne and water.”
Millman emphasized the cafe’s new focus on health and wellness, noting that students and faculty alike have responded positively.
Given all these changes, the cafe has become more like a restaurant than a dining hall, Millman said. But, without a grill station or a make-your-own salad bar, some say the new cafe has less variety than before.
“It used to be a full-service dining hall, so some people are disappointed by the more limited options,” Nick Economos MED ’23 said. “But it occupies a niche of healthier food that we don’t get at the hospital.”
The layout of the cafe has been remodeled to include more windows and promote a more open atmosphere, as guests have the option of sitting at high counters or in soft or hard chairs.
Brian Funaro, a staff member at Yale Information Technology Services, said he loves the cafe’s new food selection but noted that seating has been reduced by about half. Funaro said as the weather gets colder and fewer people want to sit outside, there will not be enough room inside the building.
Seven students interviewed spoke largely positively about the renovation. Café Med is popular not just due to the appeal of healthy foods and a spacious eating area, but also thanks to its proximity to the medical school and School of Public Health, they said.
“I finished my discussion and it’s close to the school, so I came here,” said Zijie Su MPH ’16, who was visiting Café Med for the first time. Su also complimented the quality of his bowl of greens.
Business may actually increase because prices have been reduced, according to TuKiet Lam, associate research scientist at the School of Medicine. One past concern was that food at Marigolds was expensive, Lam said, but Café Med’s new dishes cost as little as $5.
The changes to Café Med were brought about by students and faculty at the medical school who suggested providing healthier foods. They also requested a menu more similar to the food carts on Cedar Street, which offer a variety of Mediterranean dishes.
“The student groups wanted a menu that was focused on health and wellness, that was customizable and healthy,” Millman said. “Mediterranean speaks to all of those terms.”
All undergraduates can use a meal swipe to eat at Café Med, which is located at 367 Cedar St.