Over the summer, many changes to SIUE’s Dining Services have been finalized — both in the Morris University Center and elsewhere on campus — according to Director of Dining Services Dennis Wobbe.
Wobbe said Dining Services have changed a lot, but they are excited at the prospect of serving SIUE again next semester.
“We’re excited to have everybody back on campus, so long as social distancing is involved,” Wobbe said. “That means there may be limited seating during busy periods, like at 11 to 1, so choosing different times to buy [food] will be helpful. It’ll be better for working around the virus. With Phase 4 plans, we need to limit customers in Center Court, with the same type of thing happening at Starbucks and Kaldi’s with regulated lines.”
The biggest change involves both Pizza Hut and Sweet E’s. Wobbe said there will be a new pizza franchise that takes the place of both of them.
“We did a lot of focus groups, and Paavo’s Pizza came in and really won our focus groups over. With Paavo’s, we can add different things like sandwiches or wings, whereas with Pizza Hut it was only items that Pizza Hut owned and sold themselves,” Wobbe said. “We can even order different ingredients, like a gluten-free crust option. Pizza Hut was frozen dough that we heated up, but now we will be actually making it fresh and rolling it out.”
Since Paavo’s Pizza will take up both the Pizza Hut and Sweet E’s location, there are more options, according to Wobbe.
“There will be an express version at Sweet E’s, and we will have the Pizza Hut area as made-to-order, where you could pick out ingredients and sauce and toppings. The idea of being able to customize your own pizza was one of the reasons we picked Paavo’s over what we had,” Wobbe said. “The Sweet E’s area will turn into an express location, with grab-and-go options.”
The new options that Paavo’s Pizza brings are especially useful for students with dietary restrictions, such as sophomore early childhood education major Shyloh Peckham, of Gresham, Oregon.
“It sounds great,” Peckham said. “I liked the Pizza Hut, but I’m vegetarian, so I think the chance to have more customization will be really nice.”
Although SIUE is losing some ice cream options at Sweet E’s, ice cream shakes will be available at Chick-fil-A, as part of many other changes to the Chick-fil-A.
“There will be a lot of new things, like ice cream shakes, cones, grill[ed] nuggets, grilled sandwiches,” Wobbe said. “It used to be a bit of an express version of a Chick-fil-A, but now it’s more of a full service. You can add cheese, lettuce or tomato to sandwiches. There’s teas and lemonades for drinks, and salads won’t be grab-and-go. We also installed a kiosk for mobile ordering, where you can go up, input your order, then wait for them to call out your name, you go pay and get your food.”
Another big change, according to Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Jeffrey Waple, is the opening of Lovejoy Library’s express Starbucks location.
“Starbucks in the library [will] be open … It was supposed to be ready by Spring Break, but we will have it now. It should have some pastries and donuts and of course, coffee,” Waple said. “March 16 was supposed to be the grand opening, but we’re looking at doing that the first week of school. We will think more about those specifics in mid-July.”
Sophomore mass communication major Juleah Carl, of Highland, Illinois, said she had been eagerly awaiting the library Starbucks’ opening.
“I’m so excited for it to finally be open,” Carl said. “I’m always in the library, and everybody in there usually wants a book and a cup of coffee, myself included.”
Waple said these new changes might take some adjustments, but it will all pass in time.
“We will have new queueing lines, it won’t be like it used to be,” Waple said. “It will take a bit more time to get people through the line at Center Court. We will all need a little more patience. From what I heard, almost all of the new dining operations should be operational by the first day of school. There may be hiccups, but we will get used to it all.”
For more information, contact Dining Services at firstname.lastname@example.org.