A new Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh restaurant celebrated its grand opening Wednesday, Sept. 6, in the Centennial Student Union. The restaurant opened its doors on Aug.21 on the main floor of the CSU.
This is the first Garbanzo restaurant to open in Minnesota.
“This is a franchise restaurant for us, so our franchisee Sodexo found this location. They had an opening at the university, and they decided to put it in their because they’ve done really well with Garbanzos on campus in the past,” Garbanzo Senior Director of Franchise Development Patti Rother said.
In order to thrive on campus, a restaurant must have an appeal to college students. Rother said that Garbanzo has that appeal.
“Students these days are very educated about what they’re eating,” Rother said. “Our food is fresh, and everything is scratch made, and you can feel really good about what you’re eating. What’s also great is that it’s filling.”
The cost of the food is similar to a fast food restaurant, except the food is more substantial and nutritious. The food is made using traditional recipes with few ingredients and simple recipes.
“Our pita has five ingredients, one of which is purified water,” Rother said.
The Mediterranean food is advertised as “authentic.”
“Our founder was from Israel,” Rother said, “and a lot of our recipes are still the recipes that he used from his grandmother. We’re constantly looking at everything we offer and trying to make sure it’s the best version of what we can sell. We just recently upped our chicken and changed our spice blend to be more of a middle eastern spice blend.”
People who are from the Middle East have tried the food and agreed that it was pretty good. The flavors and ingredients in the food come mostly from the Middle East. The food finds its roots in the restaurant’s Israelite founder.
“When people think Mediterranean, they immediately think Greek,” said Rother. “Our food has some Greek notes in it, you can get a traditional gyro the way that you would in Greece. We have a lot of Lebanese blends in our spices, and Israel is bringing a lot of influences into our recipes as well.”
Garbanzo offers options for people who have special dietary needs. A vegetarian or vegan would be able to try Garbanzo.
“Most of [the food] is just fresh vegetables, and we have a few vegan sauces,” she said.
There is also gluten-free pita available.
Garbanzo tries to bring old recipes into the 21st century by using new technology.
“We’re making fresh-made pitas, and we now have baking equipment, we have sheeters, we have dough ballers, but we can make quite a few pitas in a short amount of time,” Rother said.
Garbanzo is a relatively new franchise which was founded in Colorado in 2008.
“Our first location opened in 2009. We have franchisees all over the country,” Rother said.
Moving to the CSU in Mankato allows Garbanzo to expand beyond its restaurants in Colorado.