Mary B’s Market replaces Burke Dining Hall’s buffet

Raelee Sents, Staff Reporter

Prior to summer 2020, Burke Dining Hall was an all-you-can-eat buffet, located on the south side of campus. Now, Burke Dining Hall’s only iteration—Mary B’s Market — provides made-to-order options, and some students think it’s a detriment. 

Kristina Patridge, director of University Dining said that “based on low customer counts” and “a collaborative process with students on the Dining Service Development Committee,” Burke dining hall was reimagined in February 2020 to become a made-to-order dining location, known as Mary B’s Market.  

“Construction began in the summer of 2020, changing the service model at Burke from an all-you-care-to-eat commons dining hall, to a made-to-order venue,” Patridge said 

Patridge primarily attributed a lack of customers and Bama Dining’s collaborative improvements as the reasoning for the dining hall’s modifications. 

“Bama Dining is always looking for opportunities to improve quality, variety, and service at all locations,” Patridge said.  

Patridge did not disclose if the Burke Hall Bama Dining location would eventually return to a full-service dining hall. 

Similar to other traditional dining locations on campus, Mary B’s Market offers meal swipe options. 

Students can purchase various meal plans that offer different numbers of meal swipes per semester. Meal swipes can be used at participating dining locations in lieu of Dining Dollar or Bama Cash. 

In Lakeside Dining and Fresh Foods, students can scan their ACT Cards to enter the all-you-can-eat dining halls. At Mary B’s Market, students can order on a kiosk and choose the meal swipe meals and scan their ACT Card at the payment step. 

Other similar made-to-order locations with meal swipe options are Sola, located in Lakeside Dining, and Julia’s Deli, located in the new Julia’s Market in Tutwiler Hall. 

Patridge said “the design change provided the ability to offer smaller groups of people a more customized experience and better-quality offering,” though the change eliminated a full-service dining hall.  

After the transformation from Burke Dining to Mary B’s Market, the University only has two all-you-can-eat dining locations, Lakeside Dining and Fresh Foods.  

Both Lakeside Dining and Fresh Foods are in the North portion of campus, opposite the Mary Burke, Tutwiler and Parham dorms. 

Additionally, Lakeside Dining is the only all-you-can-eat dining hall open on the weekends. 

Emma Brangers, a senior majoring in microbiology, said she would “definitely use Burke dining hall,” if the option was still available. Brangers said that currently, Mary B’s [Market] is always busy and that a full-service dining hall would be as well. 

“I’m confident a dining hall would be busy enough to sustain,” Brangers said. Brangers said students may even be downgrading their meal plans as a result of Mary B’s Market’s lack of options and inconvenience.  

“I know from talking to other RAs and residents that more people would get an upgraded meal plan if there was an all-inclusive dining hall closer to south campus. Many people, including myself, have downgraded their meal plan because eating Mary B’s [Market] three meal plan options gets old quick, especially on weekends when Fresh [Foods] isn’t always open,” Brangers said. 

Many current students may not remember Burke as a full-service dining hall, but some students recall its usefulness.  

“[I] was actually aware that Mary B’s [Market] was a full-service dining hall, especially before move-in as the walls that usually covered the full dining hall were open,” said Anna Williams, a senior majoring in biology. 

Williams said a full-service dining location would have been a great option for herself and other students.  

“I definitely would have utilized the full Burke dining hall as it would decrease my travel by a lot to the other dining halls such as Lakeside or Fresh Foods,” Williams said. “Having more all-inclusive areas on campus is a must for me.” 

Williams said Bama Dining should consider returning the Burke location to a traditional dining hall. 

“It would not only benefit the students of UA but also the faculty and the frequent visitors of UA’s campus,” Williams said. 

Stephanie Transou, a graduate student studying communications, said she frequently utilized the full-service Burke Dining Hall when she lived in Mary Burke Hall as a sophomore.  

Transou also said she thinks it would be “beneficial to have a dining hall where Burke’s was or reinstate Burke’s dining hall.”  

Transou said getting to the dining halls is out of the way for some students. 

“Other than the sorority houses [if students are a member of one] or maybe the new Tutwiler, the other dining halls are on the other side of campus,” Transou said.