Although the majority of Lehigh classes are held on the Asa Packer Campus, for students studying art, architecture and design, or participating in research projects, spending time at the Mountaintop Campus is necessary.
Due to its distance from the main campus, students without access to cars rely on the DoubleMap bus tracker app to travel to Mountaintop and sometimes spend all day there, limited their access to a traditional dining hall like students on the Asa Packer Campus.
To improve the Mountaintop dining experience, Evan Rehrig, marketing manager for Lehigh Dining Services, said Dining Services is piloting the Mountaintop Food Truck Series throughout September.
Rehrig said The Talon and The Purple Pita food trucks will be available at Mountaintop on Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The Purple Pita debuted for the first time on any of Lehigh’s campuses on Sept. 7.
Rehrig said its Middle Eastern food concept originated from the fizzling-out of the Simply Skewered Brazilian Churrasco truck that launched in the spring of 2019.
So far, he said the response to this new truck has been positive, with higher customer traffic compared to Simply Skewered.
These two food trucks were chosen because they are newer brands, so he said the goal is to broaden their exposure to the Lehigh community.
“We’re trying to gauge the success of it and see whether it is viable from a business standpoint to continue into October,” Rehrig said.
However, he said entering the colder months of the year means the weather can dictate the success and viability of the food trucks being open.
Teg Ritchie, ‘25, a product design major, said most of his classes have been on Mountaintop every semester, but there historically hasn’t been many accessible food options with the university meal plans.
The Market X renovations and this food truck pilot program, he thinks, will increase the availability. Rehrig also emphasized the Convenience Corridor, located at Siegel Gallery in Iacocca Hall, which provides students with 24/7 access to ramen, sandwich and coffee vending.
When he went to The Talon at Mountaintop the first week of classes, Ritchie said there were faculty, staff and students all eating from the truck.
“It’s definitely a good feeling to know that there is finally some attention being put toward getting good food on (Mountaintop),” Ritchie said.
However, Ritchie said only having access to the food trucks on Thursdays is inconvenient.
Rehrig said Thursdays were strategically chosen because Dining Services found it to be the day most students are on Mountaintop Campus. Along with that, he said there are potential plans to add more dates after piloting the series.
Gabriella Pontoriero, ‘25, studying architecture, agreed with Ritchie about the limited dining options on Mountaintop, but she said she is excited to try the food trucks and hopes the series will increase accessibility to food up the mountain.
On average, Rehrig said each food truck serves 250 to 300 customers each day on the Asa Packer Campus. Last Thursday, on its opening day, the Mountaintop Food Truck Series had 65 customers, which Rehrig said was considered a success.
Dining Services tried food trucks at Mountaintop before, but Rehrig said they had not seen that many customers. Because of this, he found the new series encouraging.
“I think that it will make life a lot more convenient, because I know that a lot of people take their cars or rush to the bus to go up and down to get food,” Pontoriero said. “I think that it will also create more of a community of people on Mountaintop of people who have classes up there together.”