Bon Appetit, Butler University’s new dining service provider effective May 13, is preparing for their transition onto campus. Photo from Bon Appetit’s website.
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Bon Appetit is in the midst of preparing to be Butler University’s new dining service provider — they are finalizing food plans, having conversations with local food providers, brainstorming design plans for retail spaces and getting the word out to students on campus.
Yesterday afternoon, Mark Daniels, transition manager for Bon Appetit, held a question and answer session for staff and faculty members. The day before, marketing manager Carey Durand also held a session for students.
Food in Atherton Union, ResCo
Starting May 13, Bon Appetit will be providing food for Butler’s campus. Instead of having a corporate menu for all locations, the head chef on campus, Jordan Hall, will customize a menu for Butler. Instead of a cycling menu where they serve food on a rotating schedule, chefs can use their own creativity.
“A lot of times contract food service isn’t thought to be as glamorous, but when there’s chefs that are actually cooking, it can be just as glamorous as any other 5-star restaurants,” Durand said. “It’s just being able to let chefs use their creativity.”
Durand added the chef’s name is pure irony, referring to the academic building also named Jordan Hall. Chef Hall has worked at DePauw University, Wabash College and high-end resorts.
The flexible menu allows the chef to keep a student favorite on the menu but to also try new meals, such as a family recipe given by a student.
Bon Appetit has been using the phrase, “Farm to Fork,” since 1999, meaning the farm is within a 150-mile radius, has 5 million or less in sales and is independently owned and operated. At least 20 percent of the food put out will be from local farms, although Durand said it will be a gradual build toward that standard as they assess traffic flow in each dining location.
“Sustainability is very much a buzzword nowadays, but we truly feel that we were part of the leaders in creating those initiative farm to fork,” Durand said. “We try to forge and find farmers that we can use their products because it tastes better when it’s regional.”
Starting with raw food enables Bon Appetit to better keep track of nutritional information and minimize cross-contamination.
Daniels, the transition manager, said they are very aware students do not perform well if they do not eat well, which is why they will “take the classroom and insert it into our cafe.”
The food will reflect a “rainbow palette” and have nutritional information. Daniels listed stress-eating, cooking classes and grocery shopping lists as possible educational topics.
Food will also be multicultural. Daniels told a story of a student who had a favorite Egyptian meal, but the chef on campus did not know how to cook it. So they invited the student into their kitchen to teach them.
“It’s not a cafeteria,” Durand said. “We’re an onsite restaurant company… People really understand that we’re creating customized food for the masses.”
Cafe in New Lacy School of Business
When the new Lacy School of Business building opens in July, students will have additional food options. Bon Appetit is partnering with Illinois Street Food Emporium, a restaurant in Indianapolis, to provide bread and pastries. There will also be bagels from Harlan Bakeries.
Daniels said Bon Appetit decided to provide their own food and drinks in the cafe instead of having a brand name because it allows them more flexibility. If students like or dislike a certain food, they can adjust the options, which they would not be able to do with a retailer such as Einstein Bros. Bagels or Dunkin’, two of the providers rumored to occupy space the business school.
Daniels said they are throwing around the idea of having students name the new cafe, but they are not sure how to involve students in that process. He wants students to see the name and say, “we did that.”
Smart Market in HRC
A smart market will also be placed in the HRC in either July or August. A smart market allows for a secure, unattended self-checkout market. Students scan their ID’s, and when they pull an item from the shelf, the item will be charged within 30 seconds. The market could possibly include smoothies and coffee.
Looking to the Future
Plans for ResCo dining and C-Club are still in the works for 2020 or 2021.
ResCo will have a restaurant with a “fast-casual” feel. Bon Appetit is currently in discussion with Neal Brown, a top chef in the Midwest and owner of Indianapolis restaurant Pizzology. Students will still be able to use their meal swipes at this dining option. Daniels said bringing Brics, the Broad Ripple ice cream station, is a possibility.
C-Club will turn into Plum Market, which Durand said is similar to Whole Foods except on “steroids — non-genetically modified steroids.” Bon Appetit is also in discussion with Hubbard & Cravens for Plum Market, although coffee in Atherton will be provided by Julian Coffee Roasters.
On April 10, 17 and 24, Bon Appetit will have a food truck outside of Atherton Union to serve free food to students.
Bon Appetit will hold another information session for students at 4 p.m. tonight in Jordan Hall 141.
The Butler Collegian will continue to follow this story and provide updates as more information becomes available.