Campus Dining has unveiled several new products and services on the Cal Poly campus this quarter. Some changes have been big, such as the switch from Pepsi to Coca-Cola and the addition of the Curbside Grill truck, while others have been major improvements on old favorites, such as the new Wii consoles in Vista Grande Cafe and a 14-foot salad bar in Campus Market that opened Monday.
Sara Markham, an art and design junior, said she loves the salad bar because it’s cheap and she couldn’t get this kind of food at Campus Market before.
“It’s easier now because I’m always down in that part of campus,” Markham said. “Before I had to walk up to Backstage Pizza to get salad.”
Markham also said that she loves the bread bowls for soup and the wide variety of dressings compared to other salad bars on campus.
The salad bar, which turns into an oatmeal bar in the morning and changes items throughout the day, isn’t the only new addition to Campus Market. Campus Dining has brought in new products such as freshly-made teriyaki bowls, paninis, locally-made Indian food and soft-serve ice cream. The store also changed its coffee supplier to Costa Java, a local coffee brewing company.
Another large change was the closure of the Mexican restaurant, Baja Surf, which closed over summer, due to loss of student interest. Campus Dining will instead focus on Vista Grande Cafe, which has a full-service kitchen and a better location, said Cal Poly Corporation director Bonnie Murphy. Vista Grande Cafe is now open for lunch, dinner and late night. It is the most popular restaurant on campus, she said.
“We were able to streamline and combine our resources,” Murphy said. “There’s more business at Vista Grande this year than at Baja Surf and VG’s (combined) last year.”
Vista Grande also has two new Wiis installed in the dining area and big screen televisions so students can watch sports games. Campus Dining is planning on completing the sports bar atmosphere by adding sports memorabilia to the restaurant.
Another long-time campus staple was also radically changed over the summer. Lucy’s Too, an extension of Lucy’s Juice in the University Union, was changed into Dexter Subs. Yukie Nishinaga, Cal Poly Corporation’s marketing manager, said that she and Murphy did extensive research on prices and looked at maps and class schedules in order to determine where to put new restaurants. Nishinaga said that low prices were key for Dexter Subs, as customers, especially faculty and staff, were demanding low-priced menu options.Now there are value meals offered at almost every campus dining option for $5-7.
PolyDeals, an online link to Campus Dining, was created in order to connect with and inform customers about Campus Dining’s establishments on popular social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Started this summer and run by student employees, PolyDeals writes about events and where the new on-campus food truck is and shares coupons and promotions.
Dexter Subs isn’t the only new low-priced option around. Curbside Grill, a food truck much like increasingly popular ones in cities, came about when it became apparent that there was more demand for late night meals. The idea of a food truck for sports games was conceived and was initially supposed to service students looking for a quick breakfast on the way to class as well.
“We asked ‘What are we missing?’” Murphy said. “We had coffee places open at seven, but students were starting classes at seven.”
Breakfast, when the truck is usually stationed by Spanos Stadium, has not been very popular so far, since many students don’t eat or have the time for breakfast, Nishinaga said. The truck offers breakfast burritos, sandwiches and oatmeal in the morning and tacos, sandwiches and fries during lunch, dinner and late-night hours.
Curbside Grill cook Stephen Gasch said that so far dinner traffic been “so-so,” but that lunch by the Construction Innovations building has been very popular.
“Even the rain hasn’t really affected traffic because no one wants to walk up to the Avenue or elsewhere,” Gasch said.
Campus Dining has been placing the truck outside the library at dinner and at Poly Canyon Village in order to give students late-night dining possibilities until about 11:30 p.m, although hours and location have varied to see where the truck works best. Curbside Grill is also present at all sports games on campus.
The switch from Pepsi to Coca-Cola products has also been a big change on campus to bring down prices. Murphy said that both Coca-Cola and Pepsi submitted proposals to Campus Dining, but that Coca-Cola was chosen because it was cheaper.
In addition, little changes have also happened all over campus restaurants and stores.
The interior of 19 Metro Station was redesigned and expanded so there are more menu options and combinations. Video menu screens have been added in 19 Metro Station and Backstage Pizza in order to change menus easily and put up important information and on-campus promotions.
When asked about bringing healthier eating options to campus, Murphy said that the salad bar is a testament to offering healthy options on campus.
“As much as people want burgers, some people don’t,” Murphy said. “A lot of changes have been made because people want fresh, wholesome, good food.”
Murphy said that would probably be more changes seen all around campus throughout the year, but that they will likely roll out slowly due to budget restrictions.