The new 'Times' building, while rather impressive-looking and generally happy-making, has nonetheless been experiencing some growing pains—faulty elevators, mice, maggots, and complainers. But how's the most vital component of the new HQ working? We've seen the floorplan, but now we've got a full report from someone who visited the other day. Pros: it's fancy, huge, and has lots of cheese. No one is going hungry! Cons: it's red, and they offer a special sushi roll called the "News Room." Oh, and some of the cafeteria staff hates it. Not that that's of any concern to the paper!
The new cafeteria is on the 14th floor, and it's nearly the length of an entire city block. We hear it's a bright, airy two-story space—a sharp contrast to the stodgy old Formica-heavy caf in the old building—with windows on all sides and a somewhat bright red carpet. There's room for around 50 tables with "minimalistic" chairs. (Trendy!)
It also seems like the Timesis trying to do a little nutritional engineering. There's a large beverage wall (it "looks like it was snatched from a Korean deli," says our insider), with a gajillion different kinds of iced tea, Vitamin Water, and the like—but there's no soda machine and therefore, no ice. Maybe they don't want reporters going back to the newsroom all hopped up on Diet Coke.
The middle of the space has two islands, which display "various cheeses, including blue cheese and brie, just like at a Times cocktail party"; salads; and desserts. "It's got the variety of Whole Foods," says our source. There's another salad bar further back with even more variety, and along the windows that face north is a hot food station and sushi bar. The day our tipster visited, the special rolls ($6) were shrimp tempura and the "News Room" roll, which had spicy crab, tuna, and mango soy. There's also a sandwich station and another hot food station on the far western side, along the Jersey-facing windows. In addition to the dessert island, there's a frozen yogurt machine (chocolate or vanilla) with sprinkles, granola, and crushed Oreos as toppings, and a cooler with various types of ice cream bars.
Sounds pretty nice! (A lot better than the cafeteria at Gawker HQ, for sure.) But we hear that late-shift staffers complain that the place shuts down at 3, and offers only packaged salads and some pastries until 5, at which point one of the hot food stations and the salad bar crank up again, as well as the fro-yo machine. (Though that's still a step up from the selection in the old building, where night staffers were basically left to their own, or the vending machine's, devices after-hours.)
Don't expect Pinch or Janet to show up—anyone on the masthead gets a catered lunch every day on the 15th floor, where recent offerings included pan-seared snapper in a rosemary cream sauce, followed by fruit with freshly whipped cream for dessert.
The cafeteria in the Times building is run by Restaurant Associates, which also runs the cafeterias at Condé Nast, Hearst, and Google. We hear that "at least one veteran employee hates the new cafeteria, because the staff was moved into a new, much larger space but with the same number of workers, meaning that it takes them twice as long to restock the place and they end up leaving up to an hour later each night. This gives them some overtime, but management has caught wind of the extra hour and insisted that they come in an hour later in afternoon so they won't have to pay the overtime. Nice."