The Student Center is getting a makeover with the addition of five new franchise restaurants.
An expanded Chick Fil-A, Subway and Taco Bell restaurants will replace the current space occupied by Pandinis. Construction on that space is currently scheduled to begin on Mar. 13.
“Sales at Pandini’s have continually fallen, and we’ve gotten feedback from our faculty, staff and students that waiting ten, fifteen minutes for a meal, even though it’s really good, [but because] everything is made to order that makes things difficult and is not conducive to a college environment. So we decided that with such a big location, we were really losing out, and we could really do more with the space,” said Dori Martin, marketing manager of GT Dining.
The other two additions will be in the upstairs food court. With Burger King’s contract ending soon, the fast food restaurant and Chick Fil-A’s spaces will be replaced with Zaya (a Mediterranean restaurant) and Café Spice (an Indian restaurant), respectively. However, both Burger King and Chick Fil-A will stay open through the rest of the spring semester, and will not close for reconstruction until the summer. All of the new venues will open Fall 2010.
Jackets/WoW Cafe and Wingery is tentatively planned to remain open, but it will possibly have menu adjustments. However, multiple issues such as nearby construction and its shared kitchen with Pandini’s is causing issues in planning.
“We’re trying to keep it open, we have people evaluating whether it can be kept open while we’re doing construction there,” Martin said.
The decision to bring the four new chains to Tech and expand Chick Fil-A came as a result from market research by Sodexo, Tech’s food service provider. Student surveys indicated that Subway and Taco Bell were the most popular restaurants to bring on campus.
“We’ve had students asking us for a very long time for Taco Bell. I mean, years and years and we couldn’t respond then because of space,” Martin said.
While the Pandini’s area will host a variety of new fast food restaurants, the food court will attempt to adopt a more international flavor with Zaya and Café Spice.
“[Students] got what they want. They wanted more variety from ethnic options, and with the growing amount of vegetarian students we have on campus, we want to select options that accommodate them as well,” Martin said.Changes in the restaurants and their locations will also vary the menus of each establishment.
“Right now at our Chick Fil-A at the food court, we have a very limited menu and that’s for a lot of reasons. Space is one of those reasons but also Chick Fil-A, the way they work is you have to earn the ability to carry their full menu. We really do hope to earn more and more of Chick Fil-A’s menu item,” Martin said.
Subway’s menu is currently planned on including everything in their menu, except for pizza which will be sold at Pizza Hut. The menu for Taco Bell has yet to be finalized. The construction will include increased seating areas in the Student Center, and may include dining options for students on weekends as well.
With construction tentatively scheduled to be near and around spring break, Auxiliary Services and the Student Center hope to open some of the restaurants as early as mid-June.