University of Northern Colorado spawns new dining options for students this year

What to eat?

When University of Northern Colorado students return to campus later this month, they will soon find a more diverse range of dining options on campus.

But wait, don’t fear an inevitable “freshman 15” weight gain this semester. Healthy food options are available on the new menus, some of which will be available to students beginning the first day of school on August 22 and continuing into the fall.

In July, UNC and food service and facilities management company Sodexo finalized a 10-year agreement to oversee food operations, including concessions and food trucks. The deal, with the option to extend it to 20 years, includes a $17 million equity investment from Sodexo with most of the investment to be made in the early years, according to UNC Associate Vice President for Student Affairs Jenna Finley.

The deal means Starbucks will return to campus for the first time since 2015. The cafe is in the process of opening in Holmes Dining Hall, where a ribbon cutting is scheduled for August 22 at 8 a.m.

Starbucks was previously available on campus for 10 years at the University Center. The new Starbucks will feature a mural painted by Denver artists Pedro Barrios and Jaime Molina illustrating UNC and local culture in Weld County.

Finley said Sodexo pays for the capital improvements as part of the deal. Capital is earmarked for direct investment in dining services and generally refers to project and construction costs.

Sodexo and UNC share the revenue, which may depend on how meal plans, catering or concessions are generated, Finley added. While UNC incurs facilities-related costs such as bond debt, maintenance, and insurance, Sodexo pays all operating costs.

“They will help with big capital projects that we couldn’t have done on our own,” Finley said of the deal.

No UNC food service employees lost their jobs as a result of the settlement, Finley said. Exempt UNC employees defected to Sodexo. All state classified employees on UNC’s payroll will now be managed by Sodexo and the company will reimburse the university for employee pay.

Finley said that between UNC and Sodexo as of early July there were 31 classified employees on the university’s payroll, 45 full-time and part-time Sodexo employees and 185 students who are also at Sodexo.

Evidence of capital project work is visible on campus, especially at the University Center overlooking 11th Avenue, where construction is being done on the interior and exterior spaces. The former food court on the lower level of the building, known as UC, has been gutted in preparation for different retail operations.

  • Bowlful – custom made cereal bowls with veggies and protein.
  • Crisol Latin Cuisine: Authentic, high-quality Latin cuisine.
  • Empire State Pizza – Local New York style pizza based on 8th Avenue in Garden City.

These locations are expected to open in October, Finley said.

Another dining option, Burger & Co., will also be at UC with bar food, a stage for open mic nights and TV. Burger & Co. is expected to open in November.

GREELEY, CO - AUGUST 05: The University Center undergoing renovation is seen at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley on August 5, 2022. UNC has contracted with Sodexo, a restaurant management company, to upgrade and run its dining room operations for the coming year.  (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)
GREELEY, CO – AUGUST 05: The University Center undergoing renovation is seen at the University of Northern Colorado in Greeley on August 5, 2022. UNC has contracted with Sodexo, a restaurant management company, to update and run its dining room operations for the coming year. (Alex McIntyre/Staff Photographer)

An atrium is undergoing renovation, which is visible from 11th Avenue and located around the corner from the UNC bear statue and to the south, with folding garage doors leading to a courtyard.

“Gathering around food is part of building a community,” Finley said. “And having connections is part of student success.”

Hissho Sushi, Subway and Einstein Bros. Bagels will remain at the University Center to be managed and operated by Sodexo, Finley added.

On Campus Commons, at the corner of 22nd Street and 11th Avenue and adjacent to UC, will now house Bears Simply to Go: The Gourmet to Go location formerly in Holmes Hall has been renamed and relocated. Replaces the Pie Cafe in Campus Commons. This restaurant will have fresh meals to go, snacks and drinks. It is open as a retail option and to swipe the food card.

It will be open in time for the first day of school.

At the Michener Library, formally known as the Coffee Corner, will be Bears Coffee Shop, serving high-quality local coffee and other hot and cold beverages.

Finley said upgrades for concessions during sporting events at Nottingham Field and Bank of Colorado Arena are also in the works as part of the deal with Sodexo.

Also coming to campus, possibly in September, are two mobile food trucks or food carts that will serve hot and cold food.

Klawz Kruiser will have cold options like sundaes, salads and sandwiches, and Klawz Krawler will offer grilled food.

Campus robot delivery (yes, robot delivery) from Sodexo remains a possible future ingredient in the food deal, but it’s not imminent on the Greeley campus. Another possible component of the future deal could be the renovation of Tobey-Kendal Dining on 9th Avenue.

Students will soon receive information on an app, allowing them to access menus and schedule mobile pickup.

“It’s a lot of fun,” Finley said of the growing food options. “I’m excited to see the reactions of the students.”

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