Many changes have been made both over the summer and in the past month to Father’s Marketplace on the bottom floor of the Rensselaer Union. The changes include extensive cosmetic, equipment, and stock item upgrades, as well as some changes to the physical layout of several parts of the store.
According to Joyce Schoenig, retail director and manager of Sodexo’s presence in the Union, the last significant upgrade to Father’s was in 2001. Since then, Schoenig went on to say, Father’s has consisted of lots of mismatched equipment. In addition to this, much of the general drink refrigeration along the walls needed upgrading, including the coffee area, which has been moved and expanded. Near the coffee area there will soon be a new standing refrigerator for the sale of the same Hybrid sushi already available in the Rathskellar. As is immediately visible, all of the stand-alone shelves have been replaced with more accessible shelving. New, healthy, and simply-made desert options are also available in the Chloe’s fruit pops, with soft-serve versions of the pops soon to be rolled out at the Library café. Finally, there are new breakfast options available every day at Father’s, with the rotating schedule displayed between the cash registers, which have been separated to help alleviate the crowding of large numbers of students making purchases at the same time.
Schoenig also stated that Fathers needed something of a philosophical upgrade. Her intent behind Father’s is that it be more than a snack shop. Schoenig wants the store to meet more student needs, including the needs of international students, more health-conscious diets, gluten-free dietary restrictions, as well as halal and kosher food requirements. Of particular interest to Jewish students, Father’s stocks a number of fully kosher meals which are made and packaged by rabbis and are rated as being appropriate for Jewish high holidays. Her intent is that Father’s Marketplace be something more akin to a food boutique, meeting a much wider range of interests and requirements. In a move to support both this desire and Sodexo’s desire to offer and promote locally sourced food products, there is also a “Pride of New York” section of the store which offers those locally made products for both personal consumption among students and as gifts.
As far as the cosmetic upgrades to Father’s, there are now posters along the main refrigerated drink wall which feature many different prints of RPI graduate’s inventions or accomplishments, all hand prepared by Schoenig. In a similar vein, the wall behind the area stocking tableware features visualizations of several significant scientific concepts or discoveries. Schoenig said that she took the time to prepare these things by hand as a way to communicate to students that Father’s marketplace is very much “your Father’s.”