Emerson Kitchen: An LA dining experience

by Laura Gomez / Beacon Staff • January 16, 2014

LOS ANGELES — Outdoor seating, organic food options, and staff who serve and bus tables do not come to mind when Emerson students think of a campus dining experience. But these are all true and notable attributes of the new Emerson Kitchen –– the Board Bucks-friendly restaurant-cafe in the Los Angeles Center.

Located on the street level of 5960 W. Sunset Blvd., Emerson Kitchen is a combined and enhanced version of the Little Building’s C-Store, Emerson’s Cafe, and the Paramount Cafe. Food is made to order, coffee and tea drinks are brewed in front of patrons, and a mix of organic canned goods and ramen noodles are available––all in one place.

“I like how it’s organic,” said Jessica Afonso, a senior marketing communication major. Afonso is one of the 124 students who recently moved into the West Coast campus. “I’m very grateful about the healthier food options.”

Students place their orders by selecting meals from touch-screen monitors located inside the space, then pay at an adjacent counter. They then sit down and wait for their macaroni and cheese or ahi tuna to be served at their table. 

“I love it,” said Jacob Gordon, a senior visual and media arts major who said he is on a dairy-free, gluten-free diet. He said the kitchen staff has been receptive to his nutritional needs. 

“I met with both of the chefs to accommodate my diet,” he said.  

Items on the menu include spinach and artichoke dip, a vegetable risotto plate, caesar salad, a chicken pesto BLT sandwich, a bacon bleu cheeseburger, chile con carne, and pork carnitas flatbread pizza. 

As part of their meal plan, students have $1,800 Board Bucks to spend in the sole dining location of the Los Angeles campus, a value to roughly equivalent what meal plans afford students in Boston. 

Jay Phillips, associate vice president for facilities and campus services, negotiated the Los Angeles contract with Sodexo, the company that has been the food service provider for the Boston campus since August. He said so far the new site has been well received. 

“[Emerson Kitchen] has a unique offering,” said Phillips. “We are not trying to compete with the restaurants next door, but the primary meals will be taken here and [students] can choose to go elsewhere.” 

Within Emerson Kitchen, there is a version of Sodexo’s coffeehouse concept, Jazzman’s Cafe, where fair-trade coffee is served and pastries are baked daily from scratch, according to Richard Dietz, operations director for Emerson Kitchen.

Dietz said the dining space can seat about 84 people in its indoor and outdoor areas. 

Sodexo’s food-on-demand app— or FöD — allows students in Los Angeles to place their food orders at least 15 minutes in advance. With the app, users can select from the same menu located inside the restaurant, schedule a pick-up time, and take their meal to go.

Phillips said feedback will be an important aspect of keeping the primary dining facility of the Hollywood campus in line with students’ needs. He said he will also discuss with Sodexo the possibility of implementing the to-go app feature in Boston.