After what will be three semesters without a Food Court, the University Union marketplace renovation project is finally coming to a close.
Peter Napolitano, director of auxiliary services, gave a tour of the nearly finished University Union Food Court Friday, Oct. 18.
As progress continues on the University Union renovation projects, the revamping of the Food Court into a marketplace-style venue will be completed in spring 2014. The marketplace features 12 unique stations, each with its own point of sale.
Lauren Mattox, retail manager for Sodexo, helped to break down what each station had to offer.
Several stations are new to the Food Court. At its entrance, the marketplace will feature a Red Mango, offering smoothies and frozen yogurt.
“This is going to be a meet-and-greet place … we wanted that kind of refreshing station right in front,” Napolitano said.
Pandini’s, an Italian marketplace, will have pizzas and pastas tossed to order, with the option of building your own entrees.
Cafe Spice will have Indian cuisine. The menu will be rotating day to day, with vegetarian and gluten-free offerings to be featured, according to Mattox.
With food options for vegans and vegetarians, Napolitano believes that several of the new stations will make up for what dining halls might be lacking.
Napolitano said that the Garden Toss station is centrally located intentionally, in the hope to display prominently the Union’s various vegetarian options.
“This station is going to satisfy, or at least attempt to satisfy, a lot of issues on campus that have been talked about,” Napolitano said. There will be tofu, shrimp, beef and chicken available, according to Napolitano.
Also new to the Food Court will be a diner station, which Mattox said will include french fries, chicken sandwiches, burgers, turkey burgers, New York steaks, ground beef and their respective toppings. The diner will have malts, milkshakes, ice cream sundaes and other related options.
Mattox said that at the New York-style deli station, there will be specialty sandwiches, featuring expanded bread options and deli meat slicers.
At the international section, Napolitano said that the chefs will have freedom in what food they would like to serve, making it so that new options will be available every day.
From about 7:30 a.m. until 10 a.m., the international station will have breakfast options. Lunch and dinner will be served until nighttime, at which time breakfast will be served again until closing.
The Wholly Habaneros station will have Tex-Mex cuisine where students can get made-to-order chips, burritos or quesadillas.
In addition to the food stations, there will be two lounge locations for students. There will also be a convenience store where, according to Mattox, students will be able to pick up essentials ranging from coffee to laundry detergent.
While most of the food court stations have a structured open and close time throughout the week, there is a Starbucks that will be open 24-hours, five days a week. Unlike the Starbucks in the Tillman Lobby, the one in the Union will offer Frappuccinos and frozen drinks.
A challenging addition to the marketplace has been five Coca-Cola “Freestyle” machines that, according to Napolitano, required significant changes to construction plans.
“We’re excited about that because we’re the only operation in the state of New York which will have 5 of these machines in one operation,” Napolitano said.
Old stations that will return and have been revamped include Mein Bowl, serving Chinese food, and SubConnection.
In the works for the Food Court are smartphone applications, the idea of these being that students might be able to order their food on-the-go so that they can pick up what they want in their free time.
“We’re kind of experimenting with this,” Napolitano said. “We’ll see … just like on campus, you don’t build the sidewalks until you find out where the path is.”
Napolitano explained that perhaps as early as November, a Student Culinary Council will be formed, where students can voice their opinions regarding food options and service.
“This is your living room. This is the student center. This is all about the student,” Napolitano said.