Students, staff react and reflect on The Commons

Deeya Patel, News Editor

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After almost 60 years of Bruff Commons serving as the place for Tulane students to unwind with food and friends between classes, students were able to enter the doors of the new 77,000 square foot Dining Room at the Commons on Aug. 21. 

Budgeted at 55 million dollars, the Commons is three stories of floor-to-ceiling glass and supporting olive brick. The facility preserves classic Bruff features such as the parfait station and made-to-order pasta bar while also featuring new additions such as an open-flame pizza oven and outdoor dining space. The building also contains a study lounge, conference rooms and the new location for the Newcomb-Tulane College.

“I love working here. The dishes, the equipment, everything about the Commons,” Sous Chef Rodney Parker said. “And I love the students. I love hearing their problems, seeing what their majors are. We have to help them better, communicate better, help the students feel more at home since they’re so far away. That’s our goal.”

The Commons boasts 10 different stations, including one called Chef’s Table which promises varying local and international cuisines and demonstrations from guest chefs. 

The Commons

A rendering of The Commons prior to its construction courtesy of the Tulane University website

“When we were planning last year, every day we got emails of different suggestions, different topics or different condiments that we could add, so we always take those into consideration … A lot of students asked for hot sauce or different breakfast items, things like that,” Director of Resident Dining Shirley Kakousky said. 

Senior Pavan Guduri called attention to impressive cooking process and presentation. 

“I’ve seen them sticking thermometers in the meats at all the stations to make sure they’re properly cooked, which is a huge step up from Bruff where I have received my fair share of rubbery chicken patties,” senior Pavan Guduri said. 

One change noticed by several students was absence of nut products such as almond milk and peanut butter. In response to several students’ comments, a post on the Tulane Dining Services Instagram, students found out that The Commons is a “nut-free facility.”

“I am glad Tulane has taken precaution for students with nut allergies, but I am sad to see many of the previous options we had at Bruff go, especially the peanut butter. Peanut butter is a staple for me and many other vegetarians. I had to go buy my own at the new convenience store,” sophomore Kelly Mckeown said.  

While certain favorite items may have disappeared, additions such as chocolate milk and a bagel bar have replaced them, much to the delight of those that “have been making the pilgrimage to Luff [Loyola University’s Orleans Dining Room] for the chocolate milk,” Guduri said. 

“Although I don’t know whether the quality will last, I hope it does,” Guduri said. “The attention to detail shown in each step of the dining process from seating and prompt table cleaning to quality and presentation of food has been quite impressive so far. Bruff was where I made a lot of lasting memories, and I’m glad the Commons will offer me a place to make a year of new memories as I head into senior year.”