Minnesota State University, Mankato students and visitors will have a new and improved dining experience in the Centennial Student Union this upcoming fall.
As stated in the announcement from the CSU last week, four of the current dining options will be replaced with Peking Plate, Hissho Sushi, Firehouse Subs, Starbucks, and a relocated Chick-fil-A. The facilities leaving the campus are Jazzmans, Erberts and Gerberts, Star Ginger, and Sandellas.
Mark Constantine, director of Centennial Student Union and Student Activities at MSU, explained what new restaurants will be coming in and how these decisions were made.
“There’s a 10-year contract we have with Dining Services, they’re part of Sodexo, and we just finished our five years of the 10. At the five year time there’s money that can be reinvested back to the University in some way,” Constantine stated. “So, we take a look at what’s gone well, and in some of our retail spaces what hasn’t gone so well.”
Choosing which retail locations will replace the old ones required some critical thought on what dining places would drive up numbers, as Constantine wants to encourage more students to eat on campus.
“Sandellas has been underwhelming. We liked the concept when we first started the contract with Sodexo, but it’s never really hit a home run. And looking we don’t have a sandwich concept once Erberts and Gerberts goes away, we’re bringing Firehouse Subs in where Sandellas [currently] is,” Constantine stated.
He also pointed out how other colleges are bringing Firehouse Subs to their campuses, and thought they should do the same.
“Sodexo has brought some of those [Firehouse Subs] into college campuses. We decided to bring the Firehouse Subs in,” Constantine commented. “There’s other ones you can go in for, there’s Erbert and Gerberts and Subway, but to bring in something different, that’s what we decided.”
Before finalizing the decisions to bring in new food choices, the CSU met with the Student Union Board to receive some student input.
“When this is happening, we as administrators work with the Student Union Board. I started talking with the students last year when we were first talking about this a little and said, ‘Hey, this is what’s going on, what do you think,’ and got some input along the way,” Constantine stated. “That’s sort of my student eyes and ears along the way when we talk about a couple of these different changes.”
MSU freshmen Cassi Jarmusch and Pa Yang are looking forward to the fresh choices they’ll have starting in the fall, as they’re not fans of the current options.
“I love it. I’m not really about the current options,” Jarmusch explained.
Yang pointed out the love both of them have for Starbucks, “I’m excited about the sushi and I’m very happy about Starbucks. We go there a lot, so that’ll be nice.”
With students already excited for the new options they’ll have starting in the fall semester, Constantine is confident more students will prefer to eat on campus.
“I think Starbucks will bring some attention that typically hasn’t [been there]. Jazzman’s done great, they’ve always done well because of their location. I think Chick-fil-A will, even though we’ve had it, be at a higher level and [having] a few more options will bring more people.”
The remodeled Chick-fil-A is expected to reopen in the lower level of the CSU in June, with the four new dining options planned to open during welcome week in August.
Header Photo: Construction is underway in the lower level of the CSU where the new Chick-fil-A will be. (Jenna Peterson/The Reporter)
Write to Jenna Peterson at Jenna.Peterson@mnsu.edu