The Refinery brings allergy-friendly options to Piazza


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The Refinery has replaced the Wok station in Piazza. While the Wok was a popular option, it was difficult to staff.

Luke Nelson, Staff Writer

Dining options at Piazza have heated up this semester with the addition of The Refinery. This new allergen-free station has replaced The Wok. It offers a wide variety of meals which are conscious of the top nine allergens most commonly found in food: milk, eggs, nuts, fish, crustaceans, shellfish, wheat, soy and sesame. 

This new menu includes several meats such as chicken breast, pork chops, pork loin, different types of ham and beef. It also serves roasted vegetables among other sides. The menu is expected to grow as the semester continues. 

While this station is specifically designed for allergen-free foods, the meals are available to all students. “It’s important for everyone to know they can get food there,” Assistant Director of Residential Dining Sara Eberle said. She expressed her concern that people may assume The Refinery is exclusively available to visitors with allergies. Due to the method of which the food is served, everybody can enjoy meals The Refinery has to offer. 

“You will get a clean plate each time… even if you have a single piece of chicken on your plate, we’re still going to give you a clean plate.” 

— Sara Eberle

Although the Wok station at Piazza was popular, it was hard to sustain. Due to understaffing issues, Piazza could not effectively operate the wok. Eberle explained that in order to keep the wok open, “you need three to four student staffers working it.” She described it as “hard to operate without extra hands.” 

The Refinery works a little differently than other stations at Piazza. Assistant Director of Marketing & Conferences Annie Karr described how The Refinery works. “You will get a clean plate each time,” she said. Eberle explained why: “Even if you have a single piece of chicken on your plate, we’re still going to give you a clean plate.” 

Servers at The Refinery will always serve food to students on a fresh plate because serving food directly onto a plate with potential allergens can cause cross-contamination. Cross-contamination occurs when the substance that causes an allergic reaction is transferred from one plate to the next through the utensils used to serve the food, in this case, tongs. This is also why people will directly serve the food to you at The Refinery. 

“If our tongs touch something on your plate that has an allergen, then it’s unsafe,” Eberle said. She made it very clear that “someone will serve the food to you because it is a cross contamination issue with the tongs.” 

This food station installation may not seem new to visitors of Rialto. The Refinery has been in place for about eight years at Rialto near the Dancer Hall entrance. 

Karr and Eberle shared their adamant faith in The Refinery. “We anticipate that venue evolving as the semester goes on,” Karr said. The addition to Piazza aims to make work a little more manageable while introducing allergen-friendly dining options that are here to stay.