MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS — It was a glorified feeding frenzy as Columbia students tore into kale salads and gulped down green juices during the opening of a new local farm-to-table eatery Wednesday.
Dig Inn, the mini-chain advertising local, mostly organic takeout food, opened its doors at West 112th Street and Broadway with a pay-what-you-wish menu that spurred a line out the door.
Building off the farm-to-table trend that shows no signs of slowing, this seventh New York City iteration of Dig Inn has a rustic, farm-y feel with the top of a shovel as a door handle, exposed wood beams and industrial lighting fixtures.
The food ranges from traditional vegan fare like an organic tofu salad to more indulgent options, including macaroni and cheese and a peanut butter milk shake — with almost all of the food prices hovering just below $10.
That's a price range aimed at the Columbia University crowd and residents, said founder Adam Eskin.
"We think people really like our food and we're benefiting from our customers wanting to make smarter and more educated decisions about what they're putting in their bodies," he said of the chain's success.
Taking the space of the gift store Card-O-Mat, Dig Inn has 30 seats, a refrigerator full of its own line of green juices, a butcher's block serving roasted turkey, rotating crock pot choices, sautéed sides and a salad bar.
"There aren't many quick places to get food and sit down [nearby]. It's either national chains or delis," said Cole Rianey, 21, a Columbia student who chose to pay nothing for his fill of Brussels sprouts, macaroni and cheese and kale.
Rianey called himself a "vegetable lover" and said though it was easy enough to make healthy food at home, he'd likely return if he was meeting up with friends.
Mina Seckin, 20, agreed it was a "great addition," adding that "it's good to have a place to get good food."
She was pleased with her haul of beets, rice, macaroni and cheese, Brussels sprouts, tea and what she described as "a veggie concoction" — all for a donation of $5.
All of the proceeds from opening day will go towards Food Fight, a non-profit that works with schools to teach them about healthy eating, signs around the store proclaimed.
The market will be open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., catering to both hungry late night studiers or harried office workers. It doesn't currently have a liquor license but Eskin hasn't ruled it out.
"We have definitely been considering getting a beer and wine license where we source from local breweries and offer local and organic wine at some point in the future," he said.