BibimBox, Carolicious, Las Palmas open in Lobdell Dining

Students give mostly positive reviews, some critiques over prices

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With the opening of the Commonwealth Kitchen Launchpad, students have three new and accessible options for food in the Student Center.
Stephanie Fu

Three new retail dining vendors — BibimBox, Carolicious, and Las Palmas — opened in the Lobdell Dining Hall in the Stratton Student Center Sept. 9.

A preview of the restaurants took place Sept. 8, when “hundreds of students and community members got to sample the vendors’ food,” Director of MIT Dining Mark Hayes wrote in an email to The Tech.

Students voted on which vendors would replace Cafe Spice, Shawarma Shack, and Shinkansen Bullet Train in May 2021 as part of the Commonwealth Kitchen Launchpad; MIT is partnering with Commonwealth Kitchen, a non-profit food business incubator, to support local, minority-owned businesses.

A sign in Lobdell Dining reads that the goal of the partnership is to “bring diverse, authentic flavors” to MIT while also “creating powerful opportunities for local BIPOC-owned food businesses.”

Bibim Box serves entrées inspired by Korean cuisine with prices ranging from $9.99–12.99. Las Palmas serves Dominican food, with entrées ranging from $9–12. Carolicious serves Venezuelan arepas and bowls, with prices from $7.50–13.50.

The vendors also each have their own selection of drinks and desserts.

Hayes wrote that “early feedback on social media has been positive” and that MIT Dining is working with the Undergraduate Association to include retail dining locations in its dining satisfaction survey.

The Tech also spoke with students dining at Lobdell about their experiences with the new vendors.

Kevin Pho ’22 said in an interview with The Tech that after trying food from all the vendors, he would be most likely to order from Las Palmas. Pho added that he felt the prices at the three new vendors were higher and the portion sizes were smaller than those of the previous vendors.

Pho also noted that he preferred those more affordable options when seeking a meal at Lobdell.

Anirudh Rahul ’24 wrote in an email to The Tech that while he appreciates “the unique Korean perspective Bibim[Box] provides, its prices do seem a bit high.”

Rahul also added that though BibimBox’s “menu does seem to have a lot of options, it seems like only a few options on the menu are actually meant to be ordered.”

Teresa Xiao, a cross-registered student at Wellesley College, said in an interview with The Tech that the food served in Lobdell Dining is “really good, compared to the food at Wellesley.”

Andrew Hutchison ’25 said in an interview with The Tech that he appreciates the “different cultural foods” in Lobdell Dining and the variety from dining hall food. Hutchison added that the food at Lobdell was better than in his dining hall.

In addition to new restaurants’ opening, the interior of Lobdell Dining has been updated with new furniture and a mural by Boston-based Colombian artist Felipe Ortiz. The mural, created specifically for Lobdell, features scenes of nature and includes butterflies and birds native to Korea and Latin America to represent the cuisine served by the vendors.

Haemin Paik, a postdoctoral associate, said in an interview with The Tech that the changes made to Lobdell Dining are an improvement from when it was last open in Spring 2020. “The interior is much brighter. I was reluctant to come before, but it is better now.”

The three newly-opened vendors are all open from 11:00 a.m.–7:00 p.m. on weekdays;Las Palmas remains open until 8:00 p.m. on Tuesdays. While none of the vendors are open on  weekends, Hayes wrote that MIT Dining hopes to “announce a rotating weekend schedule for Launchpad vendors” online and on social media. Students can find updated information about retail dining at the Division of Student Life’s website.