» By CHRIS COPPEDGE – ccoppedge@my.apsu.edu

On-campus dining has recently received a facelift.

In its partnership with the catering and dining company, Chartwells, APSU has made a number of changes to its on-campus dining options in the past year.

These changes include replacing Austin’s Café with a Subway, renovating the UC’s food court and the upcoming addition of a Starbucks to the campus library.

“The final cost of the summer renovations are yet to be determined,” said Cecil Wilson, assistant director of Housing/Residence Life and Dining Services. “Chartwells will bear the cost of all of these renovations and installations, including the upcoming Starbucks installation.”

Last year, Chartwells’ dining contract came up for renewal.

According to Wilson, “two other national companies submitted bids” for the contract, but Chartwells’ proposal received the highest score as determined by a “bid evaluation committee, comprised of faculty, staff and students.”

Remodeling the food court was the largest dining project over the past summer. In addition to removing the large drink coolers from the middle of the floor, adding another soda fountain station and a new register for busier hours, new restaurants such as Grill Nation and Zona Mexicana were added.

“We made each change with the hope that it would improve our ability to offer quick service and a varied menu in an efficient space,” Wilson said.

Another large change came over the summer in the form of Subway, which replaced the Austin’s Café in the Catherine Harvill Bookstore building. According to Wilson, Chartwells surveyed students, faculty and staff prior to proposing their new dining contract, finding there was a great demand for a Subway on campus.

“Because we knew we wanted Subway to be a late-night venue, it would have been difficult to locate it in another building,” Wilson said. “Due to its central location and standalone nature, it only made sense to replace Austin’s with Subway.”

A smaller change came in the form of installing a snack shop in the lobby of the new Castle Heights residence hall.

“Open in the morning and evening, the snack shop has some of our most popular snack items, as well as a soda fountain, a Polar Shock [slushie] machine and an espresso- cappuccino mix machine,” Wilson said.

The addition of Starbucks to the library is a project still in the early stages of development.

“Starbucks is a very popular brand sought out by many universities,” Wilson said. “They have had proven success at other campus locations, and we thought it would be a nice addition to our campus dining program.”

Wilson said putting a Starbucks in the library was a no-brainer decision.

“The library was the perfect choice due to its central location and universal use among all students,” Wilson said.

Construction on Starbucks will begin after the end of final exams in the Fall 2011 semester. The campus is sealing off the area to help prevent dust and debris likely to result from the installation. Operating hours for the Starbucks have not yet been determined.

“We hope to open the APSU Starbucks location on the second floor of the Woodward Library during the Spring 2012 semester,” Wilson said.

Students’ reactions to these changes are mixed.

“I’m really glad the school is open to changing things and giving the students options” said Elise Bianconi, sophomore health and human performance major.

Some, like Mandi Lindsay, are relatively positive about some changes, and less so about others.

“I like the food court changes, though I think they should add a Taco Bell,” Lindsay said. “I liked Austin’s, so I don’t like the Subway replacing it.”
On the other hand, “I like Subway,” said junior Ryne Cates. “It is a much healthier and less expensive option.”

Other students like Amanda Comperry are more practically-minded about the changes.

“They should lower the prices in the food court. It’s just way too expensive for college students,” Comperry said. “Also, adding a Starbucks will leave the library packed.” TAS