Article by Beau Kilpatrick, video by Cody Moore, Elaina Hurd, Abbie Chambers, and Beau Kilpatrick
Food trucks have become a trendy lunch option for students at U of L over the past year. However, they may be going away next semester as they are still working towards renewing their contract for the Spring 2017 semester. They have not been on campus very long, which begs the question of why they were brought in to begin with.
Ryan Cohee, owner of Red Top Dogs, said, “We’re definitely going to be here until your finals. And then hopefully they’ll have us back for next semester.” He continued, “We still haven’t had a definite yes or no. It’s leaning towards yes. At least what I hear,” Cohee said.
The University of Louisville has been undergoing numerous construction projects all over campus, including many changes being made to the dining options. Places like Jazzman’s Café, Global Market, Mein Bowl, Freshens, Quick Zone, and the Cardinal Burger Company (CBC) have all vanished from the Student Activities Center. Wendy’s, Papa John’s, Subway, Chic-fil-A, and Tsunami Sushi are all that remain of the original restaurants.
Mark’s Feed Store has taken over the space of the CBC and they often provide a food truck near the U of L Business School. Starbucks has assumed the location of Jazzman’s Café while remodeling of the former Heinne Brothers that was located at the Tulip Tree Café within Ekstrom Library. Finally, Subway will be relocating in 2017 from their location in the SAC to the Commuter Lounge inside of Davidson Hall.
Many students that currently use the commuter lounge will have to find a new place on campus to relax and do homework. Kathy Pendleton, Director of Student Support Services Program, is aware of the changes to be made to the commuter lounge. “It’s primarily used by students between classes. So students that commute will bring their lunch and put it in the refrigerator and use the microwave. Some students take a nap and some students study. It’s fairly well used,” Pendleton said.
Morgan Mattingly, a daily commuter student, said, “I really don’t like to go to the library. This is a good spot to watch Netflix and I can keep my food in here.”
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Panda Express was said to be opening in the SAC Fall of 2016; students are still waiting. Posters all over the library promised students that Starbucks would be open this fall; however, it is more likely that the coffee shop will open after the semester finishes.
Many of these changes came in the wake of the university negotiating out of its contract with Sodexo and opting for a new partnership with Aramark. Once the news of the switch in provider became official, university representative John Drees said in his announcement, “We are optimistic our students will be pleased with the new food service operations.”
U of L students and faculty agree that this semester’s lunch rush has been a nightmare. Fewer options and longer lines are the two main concerns.
In an effort to alleviate the headaches brought on by the construction and dining option changes, an assortment of food trucks can be found scattered across Belknap’s campus. The Travelling Kitchen, Boss Hogg BBQ, Red Top Dogs, The Celtic Pig, Zoom Zoom Yum, Marks Feed Store and others can usually be found near the U of L Business School, Bingham Humanities Building, and near the volleyball court by the ramp to the SAC.
U of L student Taylor Smith is an avid fan of food trucks in Louisville. “I’ve tried to chase them throughout the city as well,” Smith said.
These alternative dining options have become a student favorite at lunchtime. Groups of students can be seen congregating around the food trucks that offer faster lines, easier access, and less waiting time for your order to be ready. This comes at a price though; the costs of these meals are usually a bit higher than the other options around campus.
Business at these travelling favorites has increased this semester with their capability to accept flex points. By allowing flex and swipe payment options, students have the opportunity to broaden the scope of their taste buds by being able to try foods that they usually have limited access to.
Olivia Saylor says that the food diversity that the food trucks provide is a good idea. “I think it adds a lot of diverse food option that we otherwise wouldn’t have,” Saylor said.
Everybody knows the big chain restaurants that can be found all around the nation but many people are unfamiliar with local fare unless they happen to stumble upon the homegrown restaurants.
A major difference between Sodexo and Aramark is the options. The prices with Sodexo increased a little each year but they provided more local establishments that catered to the students, which helped the local economy along with letting students build a relationship with the Louisville business culture. Aramark says that it will try to keep the cost of meals down for students, but this comes at the expense of local business, as Aramark will bring large national chain restaurants to the Cardinal campus.