Pronto offers bargains, more food choices

Completion of the Campus Center and Classroom Project gives reincarnation of ‘The Switch’ variety, modern space


Cody Casares / The Advocate

Criminal justice major Aaron Hernandez (right) puts in his order to culinary arts major Elizabeth Rago (left) at Pronto in the Student and Administration Building on Aug. 29.

By Dylan Collier, Advocate Staff

There is a rejuvenated energy this fall semester within the Contra Costa College culinary arts department.

Pronto, which provides on-the-go food items similar to that of The Switch previously next to the now closed Three Seasons Restaurant in the AA-Building, is open.

The recent addition to Pronto is the menu located outside the front door, in between the dine-in restaurant Aqua Terra.

Although Pronto still lacks an official menu on the wall inside, it is an upgrade from the old area.

Even the menu items resemble what was offered at The Switch and Express Café within the culinary arts department.

These include grilled sandwiches, bacon cheeseburgers, chicken burgers, chicken Caesar salads, and rice noodles.

All the burgers and sandwiches come with fries and everything is exactly $3 cash, except for the soup of the day and the fries for $1.75 each.

While the goal was to mimic The Switch, the culinary arts department ended up surpassing that goal with items served at Pronto that were never offered before.

Engineering major Irina Tabor said just because Pronto did not have an official menu, that never stopped her from ordering food.

“I would simply ask them what they had on the menu for the day,” Tabor said.

“If there weren’t people at the front ready to take your order, I just thought they weren’t open.”

The menu is the heart and soul of any restaurant.

She said, “I feel like (Pronto) should probably have a menu after tomorrow, and there’s no excuse, even if it’s a makeshift, real basic one.

Even if it’s on a white board, and they write it down it’s very useful.

Many students on campus think that the flavors and prices mesh well with each other.

“So far I like the food at Pronto, and the quality of the food is not bad for the price.

“I wasn’t impressed with the food at (Brix) in the Student Dining Hall. It was subpar when I went,” Tabor said.

Culinary arts student Ram Umali said, “I think there is going to be a difference in the items on the menu (compared to what was offered at The Switch).”

Even the message on the old chalkboard at The Switch still reads, “Restaurant moved to SA Building.”

But The Switch was never designed to be a restaurant.

It was originally an old phone operator’s circuit board converted into a place to get a quick snack.

Pronto, however, has moved past the goal to offer only what The Switch used to offer and gives the college little downtown Berkeley bistro vibe at its new center.

Culinary arts department Chairperson Nader Sharkes said, “I feel like Pronto will draw more people than The Switch did during the spring semester because it is located on the ground floor rather than the second floor.”

As for the faculty members who work on the second floor, they felt like having the menu outside wasn’t a problem at all.

“You figure about 80 percent of the students walk right by, and it’s perfect for the ‘grab-and-go’ nature,” Sparkpoint Coordinator Bill Bankhead said.

Pronto draws a lot of foot traffic in a centralized location on campus with the majority of students walking right by the front door.

This location also provides students with the option of deciding whether they want a to go meal from Pronto, or if they would like to dine at a table inside Aqua Terra Restaurant.

“This was the first day we had the outdoor menu up in front of Pronto and it’s increased our efficiency,” culinary arts professor Elisabeth Schwarz said.

Culinary arts major  Deirdre Kelly said, “We’re currently working on the permanent production of the menu. When the restaurant opens we will produce it.”

Kelly said she completed the cooking portion of the program, took a break from school and returned to earn her baking certificate.

She said, “They decided not to put up a permanent menu because the advanced class and Nader make all the bigger decisions, Kelly said.

ASU Treasurer Francis Sanson said, “I feel like (Pronto’s outdoor) menu is in a good location for now.

It is right next to Aqua Terra.

“It really draws your attention from the outside to bring students inside, and students will realize they have options before they enter the restaurant,” Sanson said.

For the time being, it makes sense to keep the menu outside because all one has to do is quickly glance at it, make their selection and get their food quickly.

Everything associated with the new Pronto food is quick, speedy and efficient with a newly upgraded twist.

Even the name is an upgrade from previous semesters.

Sharkes said while The Switch has a decent ring to it, Pronto defines everything that goes on behind the counter.

You get your food in a speedy, yet efficient and inexpensive way.

He said, “Pronto will draw more people to good, but well priced, food.”

Sharkes requested that the current bulletin board be moved directly to the right of Pronto by the elevator, and that a menu be put on the left on the brick wall.

But school codes don’t allow drilling into brick material, so the process in still under review he said.

For all students wondering when exactly Pronto will have a permanent menu be patient.