New dining options proposed for students

Choices for grabbing a meal between classes may change next semester as new dining chains have been proposed to replace existing eateries at the Marshall Student Center (MSC) and Sessums Mall.

The changes, proposed by USFs dining services contractor Aramark, include replacing Sbarros with Panda Express, Miso with Papa Johns Pizza and Burger King with Pollo Tropical.

The changes are in early planning stages, and the university has concurrently created a workgroup to gather feedback from the community and students on the proposals.

Jeff Mack, assistant vice president for Campus Business Services, said he and the workgroup are determining feasibility, cost and an appropriate timeline for the projects.

If students are supportive of these brands, then this could bring additional traffic and sales to the MSC Food Court, he said. That is why we are trying to gather feedback on satisfaction with these changes.

Mack said though exact costs have yet to be determined, changes would require extensive renovation
to the MSC food court and the Burger King building, as well as the purchase and installation of new equipment that would be funded by Aramark.

Sujit Chemburkar, director of the MSC and a member of the workgroup, said he likes the proposed changes, and that while Aramark has made similar changes in that past, it did not make changes that werent popular with students.

I think students are excited about the change and interested in the thought, he said.

Chemburkar said so far, of the 876 students who have taken the online survey posted on Facebook, Twitter and the MSC website, 70 percent were satisfied or highly satisfied with replacing Sbarros with Panda Express and more than 60 percent were satisfied or highly satisfied with the introduction of Papa Johns Pizza and Pollo Tropical.

The changes in the MSC would replace the two least-visited venues, with those complimenting Chick-fil-A, Moes and Subway, Mack said.

We are always reviewing the dining concepts to enhance the satisfaction of those brands in the retail facilities such as those in the Marshall Center Food Court, Mack said.

Students like Delia Kelly, a senior majoring in biomedical sciences who said she eats on campus fairly regularly, welcome the change.

A change in options would be nice, especially at a school with so much diversity, she said. Burger King doesnt have as much to offer as Pollo Tropical.

Jose Lopez, a freshman majoring in math and biomedical sciences said while hes not too crazy about Pollo Tropical, he is looking forward to the possible addition of Panda Express and Papa Johns Pizza.

Mack said if there was positive feedback from the surveys, changes could be implemented in the MSC by the end of the year, opening to students at the beginning of the spring semester, and changes to Sessums Mall could be completed by summer 2013.