Since opening its doors in 2011, Binghamton Hots has been catering to the food needs of Binghamton University students in Downtown Binghamton. Now, the restaurant is seeking to expand and establish a new location on campus.
BU has a history of bringing local restaurants onto campus, including two of the Marketplace’s long-standing inhabitants: Tully’s University and CopperTop Pizzeria. A meeting on Nov. 8 between Sodexo representatives and Binghamton Hots discussed the possibility of the restaurant coming to Vestal.
Binghamton Hots owner David Whalen, ‘05, said he believes a campus location is the next logical step in the business’ progression.
“Binghamton Hots has been open Downtown going on nine years,” Whalen said. “Our business model was created to serve our students living Downtown. So when we kind of looked at how to expand the business, it makes a lot of sense for me, in terms of the evolution of the brand and business, to have a campus location up at BU.”
In 2017, Binghamton Hots was ranked the second-most iconic college town restaurant across North America by Spoon University, only two years after being named one of the 10 best college town burger restaurants by College Magazine. The restaurant is known for its famous Hot Plate, a rendition of Rochester’s famous Garbage Plate. It is comprised of a combination of cheeseburgers, hot dogs, home fries and macaroni salad, topped with a homemade hot sauce.
According to Whalen, Binghamton Hots has made previous attempts to open a location in the Marketplace but was unsuccessful because of a lack of available space. However, with the construction of the Hinman Dining Hall, a new opportunity opened for the restaurant to come to campus.
“The conversation has kind of switched [from the Marketplace] to the new Hinman Dining Hall complex, which was supposed to be under construction already but has been delayed pretty significantly, unfortunately,” Whalen said. “But that being said, they are looking for a stand-alone concept to put into that space.”
The process for deciding what restaurants come to campus starts with applications submitted through the Sodexo website. The application process for the new Hinman Dining Hall is currently underway, according to Jim Ruoff, resident district manager for BU Dining Services (BUDS).
“[BUDS], along with the Student Culinary Council and other groups, are doing surveys and capturing other data to see what type of service would best fit in the facility,” Ruoff wrote in an email. “This is ongoing and will continue through next semester. Once a decision is made about restaurant type … we will then have a collaborative discussion with stakeholder groups as to what brand is the best fit in our community.”
Teresa Liu, a junior double-majoring in business administration and economics, said she believes that Binghamton Hots would be a great fit in the new Hinman Dining Hall.
“I am excited to see how this venture plays out,” Liu said. “I think that it is a good idea to incorporate more local vendors on campus, especially one that is so popular [among] students. I hope that Bing[hamton] Hots is able to find a home on our campus, as it not only offers unique menu items but also provides a wide variety of vegetarian and vegan options.”
Although no decision has been made yet, Whalen said his meeting with Sodexo was positive.
“They were very receptive,” Whalen said. “We talked for probably an hour afterward answering their questions. It was a really good meeting. [What] I got from it was, we like this idea. We’d like to find a way to move forward, it’s just logistically difficult at the moment until things become more clear with the Hinman [Dining Hall] situation.”