The Vietnamese Pho Noodle Bowls, Banh Mi and Thai Curries will be put away at the University of Massachusetts’ Blue Wall Café on Thursday, as the Ginger Star Asian Grill’s counter space will transform into a Thanksgiving buffet for students who cannot make it home for the break to dine with their families.
Retail Dining Manager for UMass Dining Van Sullivan said that the idea to have Thanksgiving dinner at Blue Wall this year started as a way to feed the UMass Marching Band, which is planning to stay on campus in preparation for the Friday’s football game against Central Michigan University at Gillette Stadium.
The idea soon spawned to include other groups on campus such as international students, service workers and those who will stay on campus over Thanksgiving break, Sullivan said.
“These students who don’t go home, they need a place to eat,” Sullivan said.
The decision to host a Thanksgiving dinner was made over the weekend, said Sullivan, who credits Director of Auxiliary Services Ken Toong with the idea for the meal.
While the Blue Wall has the facilities to prepare a Thanksgiving meal, UMass catering, which is located on the eighth floor of the campus center, will be cooking the meal.
The buffet will include locally grown sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, pilgrim sandwiches and turkey, Sullivan said.
But it won’t be just any turkey.
“It is going to be badass turkey,” Sullivan said.
The turkey will have sage stuffing, roasted sweet potatoes and roasted root vegetables, he said.
Vegetarians won’t miss out, Sullivan said, as there will also be pumpkin ravioli with sage.
This will be the first time the Blue Wall serves a Thanksgiving meal, Sullivan said. Last year, Auxiliary Services decided to open French Meadows for the holiday.
It was a little surprise when 35 hungry people showed up.
“We just kind of stuck food out,” Sullivan said.
Encouraged by that success, Toong and Sullivan decided to up the ante this year and expand the meal.
Sullivan said that other factors went into the decision, including a shift in how he thinks about the Campus Center. After last year’s October snowstorm, he realized how integral to the community the Campus Center is and why it is a good fit for Thanksgiving.
“Everybody was here so we really had this sort of homey feeling about this building that we learned about this year,” he said.
Banners will be posted in the Dining Commons today, informing people about the event, and flyers will be posted around the University.
The meal will be available for a meal or YCMP swipe. It will cost $9.50 for those without a meal plan.
Sullivan, along with Toong, will be at the Thanksgiving festivities for at least part of the day.
While Sullivan said he doesn’t think his family is “all that pleased” with the turn of events, he believes the turkey will be better at the Blue Wall.
“I come from a long standing New England family that cooks turkey for a long time and tends to make old fashioned food,” he said. “I think the food will probably be better here.”
Katie Landeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Sam Hayes can be reached at email@example.com.