TRU’s multi-year food services expansion is in its homestretch. The Deli at the U & M, Old Main’s newest restaurant, opened for business Monday after being delayed two weeks, pending the results of a final health inspection.
Old Main’s second floor now boasts the Upper Level Café, featuring Bento Sushi, in place of Extreme Pita and Revvup, while the Deli at the U & M serves a variety of fresh food, including soups, samosas and a variety of other options.
An updated student area is also in the works, with a new seating area inside the second floor doors and to the left. The new area will include a variety of hard and soft seating, power outlets, and a microwave for student convenience.
“We just want it to be a place where students can relax, study, socialize,” ancillary services director Glenn Read said.
Hours of operation have also been expanded to 8 p.m. due to popular demand. That’s good news for students like Ashley Simms, who uses a meal card and has been previously frustrated with the limited hours in some locations.
“Bean Me Up closes at 2 p.m. That’s not convenient at all,” she said. “I wish they would be open later.”
According to Read, the longer hours are due to a seven-month review of staff, students and faculty which identified longer hours as an area TRU food services needed to improve.
The second major ongoing project, the Urban Market on the second floor of the Campus Activity Centre (CAC), is set to open mid-September, although there has been no date announced.
“We’re waiting on some product, meaning tile and surfaces, that are being delayed, but that won’t prevent us from opening up,” Read said.
The new restaurant will feature a stone pizza oven, an urban cultivator to grow on-site herbs and greens, as well as a juicing station.
The best laid plans…
According to Read, the expansion purposely focused on Old Main rather than the former CAC Terrace cafeteria due to Old Main’s larger size and the perception that restaurants there would reach more students.
Originally, a full food court was planned for the second floor of Old Main. The former Revvup station beyond the mezzanine was to be replaced with multiple restaurants, including a Sultan’s, Triple O’s, Miso, Extreme Pita, Pureblendz and Bento Sushi.
The plan had to be reworked after it was discovered that the floor had only half the weight capacity required by the B.C. building code to handle a commercial kitchen. The end solution was to build the Deli at the U & M on the mezzanine above Student Street, which met the weight requirements.
“We just had to get creative,” Read said. “I mean, we were stuck because the space that [was planned] was much larger and we would’ve been able to pull off the original plan. But because we were stuck for space and there wasn’t any other area in Old Main that could support it, we had to scale it back significantly.”
While both new locations at Old Main are open and the Urban Market is set to follow, students have remarked on their limited food options due to construction.
“Everything’s closed,” second-year student Meagan Dziwenko said last week.
First-year student Menna Ahmed echoed the sentiment. “I think there’s not much variety,” she said, although she admitted she was unaware of the ongoing expansion plan.
Fellow first-year student Sachin Sundhu, on the other hand, said he was aware of the new restaurants in Old Main, but often goes off campus to eat. “Just with [my] schedule, you know? I don’t really like waiting in long lineups at Tim Hortons to get a donut,” he said.
Sundhu added, however, that he might start eating more on campus once the Urban Market is up and running.