Knorr Dining Hall will have competition for students’ meal swipes starting next week.
Café Fresco, the new grab and go service from Bon Appétit Management Co. in Kendall Hall, opens Monday. Serving patrons from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., the shop will offer a new menu of sandwiches and salads for students to swipe to alleviate customer congestion in the Grewcock Student Union’s cafeteria and offer an easy way to get lunch to go.
“We want to always push the limits of what we’re capable and expand the expectation of our guests,” said David Apthorpe, general manager for Bon Appétit at Hillsdale. “We want to get as much use out of the student union while providing an additional service and meeting demand.”
Unlike A.J.’s Café or Jitters Coffee Cart — which accept cash, cards, and Liberty Bucks — Café Fresco takes only the meal sweeps that previously were limited to use in the Grewcock dining hall. Persson said based on how the project goes, it may consider accepting Liberty Bucks in the future.
Students have a choice of two types of meals at Café Fresco. The first consists of a sandwich, side, drink, and dessert. Sides range from a mini kale salad to a bag of chips.
“The items are nutrient-dense but also delicious,” said William Persson ’17, Bon Appétit’s marketing manager at Hillsdale. “They’re not some boring sandwich.”
The second is a dinner-size salad with a dessert and drink.
“The salads are a lot bigger,” Persson said. “They’re more like a full meal with meat and vegetables.”
For Café Fresco, Bon Appétit has made up 12 new kinds each of sandwiches, salads, and sides (not including chips and desserts) for its soft opening this semester. Each day, there will be three options of each with choices rotating based on consumer demand.
“The key was variety,” Persson said. “We didn’t want people to be bored going there every day.”
Apthorpe said every day there will be options available for individuals with dietary restrictions at the new café. Persson added that the Bon Appétit team has designed a vegetarian sandwich and that the entree salads will be gluten-free.
Students will be able to find specials and menu updates on the shop’s Instagram @hillsdalefresco. Daily menus will be available on hillsdale.cafebonappetit.com.
In the future, Persson said Bon Appétit hopes to add even more selections.
Café Fresco’s name is meant convey that its meals are made fresh daily in the Searle Center’s catering kitchen, but also available for students to grab quickly. Its hours mirror the Grewcock cafeteria’s to alleviate its lunchtime busyness. Between 1,100 and 1,300 people come to the cafeteria for lunch, mostly between 11:55 a.m. and 12:10 p.m.
“The biggest challenge for me is the times when the cafeteria is open,” freshman Sam Swayze said. “That would resolve that complaint. The portability would be nice.”
Students said they were excited about the new café, especially if it does free up dining space in the cafeteria.
“A lot of days, you arrive at 12:15 p.m. and can’t find a seat anywhere,” sophomore Jillian Riegle said. “It can give me anxiety to go. I don’t look forward to it. I hope the grab and go does alleviate some of the overcrowding.”
Apthorpe said the opening of Café Fresco will cause unexpected challenges but noted that Bon Appétit is working to make the project a success and will implement changes as needed.
Ultimately, though, the hope is that the new service will benefit the students and functions of Bon Appétit’s service as a whole, Persson said.
“I would have loved to have this option available,” he said. “It’s nice if you do not have time to go to lunch and spend an hour there, waiting in line and then you start talking to friends. That’s more like an event. Café Fresco will allow students to save time if they need to.”
Riegle added that she is happy to save more of her Liberty Bucks when she cannot make it to the cafeteria.
“It’s nice that I can use a swipe,” she said. “That way I can still buy coffee three times a week.”