Campus Center: Expanded Food Venues, Papa John’s “Refresh” on Table

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IUPUI Auxiliary Services and dining services partner Chartwells are expanding the Campus Center with new food venues. The university is also considering a plan to retool the pizza area in the wake of the national controversy with Papa John’s pizza.

Angie Hill, the director of operations for IUPUI Auxiliary Services, said that stakeholders are excited about the ongoing renovations which will include additional cash registers and seating.

“It’s going to help with the efficiency and many wait times, so that we look forward to,” Hill said.

From left to right: Angie Hill, director of operations for IUPUI Auxiliary Services, Rachel Jahrsdoerfer, marketing manager for Chartwells at IUPUI, and Stacy Blanton, district manager for Chartwells at IUPUI, shared details about the Campus Center expansion plans.

The food venues currently operated at the Campus Center include well-known restaurant chains such as Chick-fil-A and Papa John’s. According to Auxiliary Services, Panda Express will round out the trio of nationally recognized brands.

National recognition turned into national notoriety for Papa John’s when John Schnatter, the restaurant’s founder and former CEO, said the N-word during a conference call on July 11. The backlash from this and another controversy prompted Schnatter’s resignation from the board of Papa John’s, as well as moves by at least three central Indiana colleges to distance themselves from Schnatter.

This month, Ball State University and Purdue University returned $11 million in donations from Schnatter, and renamed buildings that had been named after him.  On Aug. 21, the Butler Collegian reported that their food court would no longer have a Papa John’s.

“We are doing market research now on whether or not that pizza concept is what will remain here,” Hill said, in reference to the Papa John’s at IUPUI.

This part of the food court is currently undergoing construction at the Campus Center.

After Schnatter resigned from the board, Papa John’s released an ad on Aug. 24 that welcomed criticism of their founder from customers. Schnatter’s image was also removed from Papa John’s pizza boxes and other branding from the company.

“So as long as Papa John’s commit to dissociate themselves from ‘the situation’, and hold to that commitment, then the relationship will remain,” Hill said. “Despite that, however, we are reviewing what we do with that concept.”

Hill added, “it’s just, potentially time to do a refresh in the pizza area.”

Stacy Blanton, the district manager for dining services partner Chartwells at IUPUI, explained that a refresh typically entails superficial changes, but a complete change in venue was still possible. Both Blanton and Hill agreed that it had yet to be determined definitively what will happen with Papa John’s on campus.

“We’re reviewing what that means on a bigger scale right now,” Blanton said.

Outside of the potential “refresh” for the Campus Center’s pizza area, Blanton pointed to other changes coming to the food court.

“We’re moving all of the cash registers that are out here currently and they’re moving into each of the units,” Blanton said.

Currently, students must first wait in line for their food at a venue, and then go to a centralized pay station. Blanton said that the number of cashiers will be doubled, with Chick-fil-A alone having four cashiers.

This is a part of a broader Chick-fil-A expansion, complete with its own seating and expanding the menu to include breakfast. According to Auxiliary Services, the renovations will expand seating at the food court as a whole by 20 percent, totaling 380 seats.

Students will also be able to democratically decide on an additional food venue at the Campus Center, with the voting method and platform yet to be determined. Options students may be able to select include Burger 317, Iron Waffles, a vegetarian venue (Rooted), a baked potato venue (SMASH’D), a barbecue venue (Smoked), a breakfast venue (The Egg Shoppe), Tu Taco, or a venue that offers Mediterranean cuisine (Za’tar). According to Hill and Blanton, Chartwells and Auxiliary Services would likely partner with the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) in organizing the vote.

In addition to expanding the food venues, Chartwells is revamping, rebranding and relocating the Campus Center convenience store Outtakes.

“There will be more grab and go options, more refrigeration, more room for freezer products,” Blanton said.

Outtakes will be known as The Market, and in its current place next to Barnes & Noble on the first floor of the Campus Center will be a Simply PUUR. According to Auxiliary Services, they selected this location to be close to the fitness center. Simply PUUR will have the same hours as the fitness center, and it will offer vegetarian food and products marketed as “locally sourced.”

While the vendor’s “locally sourced” products can come out of state, Blanton said that, “Our company is constantly working with our vendors to tighten that up as close as we can with the supply and demand that’s needed.”

The Market will be moved to where the “spirit wall” adorned with IUPUI branding currently is in the Campus Center food court. However, there will not be a net loss in IUPUI theming in the area.

“We’re looking at banners on columns, any potential wall space where we can add IUPUI spirit into the space,” Blanton said. Hill said that these may include theming related to the upcoming 50th anniversary of the university’s founding.

Blanton emphasized that students should not expect these changes to happen all at once, as the renovations to the Campus Center are being completed in phases.

“It’s a one year long phased project, so walls will be coming up and going down in a phase over the course of the next year,” Blanton said.

According to Auxiliary Services, venues will remain open during construction and any temporary relocations will be indicated by signage.

Construction at the food court in the Campus Center is slated to conclude August 2019.


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