Food Court renovations to dish out expanded options

Construction continues in the food court on Friday afternoon. Yinghui Sun // Staff Photographer
Construction continues in the food court on Friday afternoon. Yinghui Sun // Staff Photographer

Students at the University Center (UC) Food Court have been eating their Wendy’s burgers with a side of noise from the construction next door.

Since the start of the spring semester, part of the food court is being renovated. Dining Services divided the renovations into two plans referred to as phases. Phase II will update the food offerings at the UC, and is expected to be completed by spring 2015.

The first phase, which was completed in the fall of 2013, involved the renovation of the Mahoney-Pearson Dining Hall. This phase also introduced the venues for the Student Center Complex, such as the Made to Order Deli and Salads (M2O), Lime Mexican Grill, Jamba Juice and a second Starbucks.

As part of Phase II, the Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall will receive a similar facelift, and an Athletic Training Table will be developed. This table will be a dining room within the Hecht-Stanford Dining Hall for the athletics department.

The table will be shared by all students, but is geared to athletes’ needs, said Sandra Redway, executive director for auxiliary services.

Redway says that Phase II offers more variety to on-campus dining.

“Completion of Phase II will see the introduction of new healthy and decadent food concepts, something for everyone,” she said.

In the food court, these new food concepts will feature a Subway, a full-scale Sushi Maki, Panda Express, Pollo Tropical and others.

Mango & Manny’s Supermarket will be removed in fall 2014 with the opening of Pollo Tropical, a quick-service Latin American restaurant that offers similar fare to Mango’s.

Two future options that are not currently part of a restaurant chain are “Tossed,” a salad concept and “Built by the Counter,” a gourmet-burger venue. These are scheduled to open spring 2015, Redway said.

Pat Whitely, vice president for student affairs, believes the renovation “will be a significant change and upgrade and meet the contemporary needs of the university community with an expanded convenience and a variety of new offerings.”

Greater convenience not only refers to restaurant additions. There are plans to create another C-Store near the food court that will offer fresher and healthier options to the existing, smaller shop in the UC.

The restaurants were selected based on student surveys, focus groups and town hall meetings. Research took a year to compile.

Students have mixed feelings about the renovations.

“I think other schools have better options than we do,” junior Marilyn Pape said. “It’s expensive so I just bring food from home.”

Other students, like senior Caroline Williams, are surprised by the decisions.

“I can’t believe they’re taking out Mango & Manny’s even though it is healthier than Pollo Tropical,” she said. “I’m surprised they’re taking out a fast food to bring in more.”

Junior Ishtpreet Singh believes it is important to keep an open mind about the changes to the Food Court.

“There has been a negative view about the food choices on campus because there’s not enough healthy options, but I think we should wait and see what comes out,” he said.

To read more about the renovations, check out the staff editorial on page 5.