Let’s get down to business – what many of us now want to know about the new Center for Student Life and College of Business is, what sorts of scrumptious food will be served there?
Expected to open in time for the fall 2017 semester, the center not only will accommodate academic endeavors and the community, but will be a prime epicurean source of sustenance too. In fact, it will update the eating landscape of campus in ways that UF students, faculty and staff, and campus visitors, will find more than palatable.
To be operated by Sodexo dining services, the center’s first-floor eating area will feature the company’s Signature and Value Tier brands represented by stations that will serve Mexican, Asian and American cuisine ranging from quick eats to made-to-order meals. Included will be Wholly Habaneros, Mein Bowl, The Grill @ Findlay, Sub Connection, and Grab N Go. The popular coffee shop, Jazzman’s Brew and Bakery, will also be located in the center and the University’s first student-run business, The Rig, will be relocating there to finish off the selection of restaurants.
The menu at Wholly Habaneros, which is currently rebranding and may have a name change, will still feature the Tex-Mex Chipotle flair and flavors. Sub Connection will offer items such as subs, wraps and even create-your-own salads. The traditional grill will showcase by The Grill @ Findlay with breakfast items, hamburgers, breaded chicken and fries.
Mein Bowl will be the Center for Student Life’s signature eatery. It will offer authentic Asian food made at a wok station and feature recipes by Chef Mai Phan, whose recipes and flavors occasionally have been featured for special events at Henderson Dining Hall. The restaurant will include dishes such as Chinese sweet chili chicken, samurai shrimp, potstickers, egg rolls and Mongolian beef. Planners think one of the main draws also will be fresh sushi. According to David Harr, general manager of Sodexo at UF, “Mein Bowl’s most popular menu items will be the sushi. Students, faculty and staff have shown great excitement having this be available on campus.”
Jazzman’s Brew and Bakery and Grab N Go will be relocated to the front of the center’s horseshoe-shaped food service area, and will offer items that cater to students studying and socializing in the large open gathering area in the middle of the center. The popular Jazzman’s blueberry muffins and chocolate chip cookies with your favorite brewed coffee, latte or mocha will hit the spot.
The Rig will be moving from its current location in the Village to join the other restaurants and will be transferring from Oiler Enterprises to be a part of the Sodexo umbrella. The Rig will be rebranding with this move, but it will continue to be a student-run business featuring its traditional wings and sauces with milkshakes, along with Riggly, the restaurant’s mascot. Students will continue to operate it using Sodexo menu/ordering systems, vendors and support. It will continue offering experiential learning by allowing student workers to have purchasing power, management and marketing roles, and recipe development opportunities.
Harr offers more details on this on-site video:
Harr said the dining company has been planning its center offerings since the building construction announcement was made in 2013.
“A lot of thought has gone into this,” said Harr. “We conducted focus groups and surveys that focused on lifestyles. We analyzed where the students were from and what their food preferences are,” he explained.
Dining will be located on the center’s west side, and will feature ample seating that will serve as gathering spots for studying, socializing and community interaction. The fun will continue outdoors with a grassy area that will front steps, and a wide entrance that Harr said can be used as a stage for performances. He expects cookouts to take place and “a lot of activity down there.”
Because of the variety, quick availability of food, and the beautiful, comfortable gathering area, Harr thinks “resident students and commuter students will love this.”