New dining options to be added to the JC over spring break
BY FAREEHA REHMAN, ONLINE EDITOR
The Johnson Center will undergo renovations during spring break to give Mason students brand-new dining options.
According to Caitlin Lundquist, unit marketing specialist for Mason Dining, construction has already begun on the lower level, the new home to IndAroma and Red Hot & Blue, with full renovations beginning March 11. IndAroma and Red Hot & Blue will open back up March 13 and remain open for the rest of the renovation period.
As for the west side of the JC, Burger King, Erbert & Gerbert and Jorge’s will be walled off until Fall 2017 for the new brands, Lundquist said. Star Ginger will be expanded and improved and Auntie Anne’s will also be relocated.
Lundquist added that the renovated JC food court will have four new dining options: JC diners will be able to grab a milkshake from Steak ‘n Shake, a made-to-order pizza from Blaze Pizza and kebabs from Garbanzo, a Mediterranean cuisine option. An additional option is to be announced.
Mark Kraner, executive director for Campus Retail Operations, added that a patio will also be created on the west side of the JC near the deLaski Performing Arts Building.
Senior Jordan Deleon believes that the new additions will elevate the quality of life around campus as the addition of Panera Bread did in Fall 2014.
“I’m quite happy to see my money put towards something that I want,” Deleon said.
Garbanzo will be the second campus restaurant to offer the option of halal meat, with IndAroma being the first. Halal meat is non-pork meat that is butchered according to specific Islamic guidelines.
Another halal restaurant on campus “would be tremendously amazing. Not only would the business do well due to the major Muslim population that attends Mason, but [Mason] would also be showing how they accept and don’t judge,” senior Rabia Ansari said.
Mason would also be the first Virginia university to have a Steak ‘n Shake on campus, Kraner said.
“It’ll definitely help set Mason apart from other campuses, since campuses have their own unique food options. We’ll finally have our own to brag about,” junior Andrew Deperio said.
The renovations are a result of direct feedback from Mason students, faculty and staff via surveys.
“Survey results revealed respondents were looking for speedy service, ethnic options, made to order customizable foods, interactive service lines, open kitchen formats and food trucks,” Lundquist said.
A Steak ‘n Shake food truck parked by the JC will be available during construction. There will also be a new permanent food truck addition to campus.
“We purchased a food truck called The Hungry Patriot, and during the renovations it’ll be there for lunch and dinner. After that we’ll be using [and sharing] it with Mason Athletics for sporting events,” Mark Arnold, general manager of retail operations for Mason Dining, said.
According to a press release, Bonus Dollars, Freedom funds, Mason Money and cash/card will all be accepted at both food trucks. Other specialty food trucks will pop in to campus for a limited time as well.
Not all changes have been announced, however. Jorge’s will be replaced by a surprise vendor which will not be operated by Sodexo.
Changes to JC dining have already occurred in recent years. Jorge’s, Freshens and Panera were all new additions in 2014.
“The university does periodic renovations. Each brand has internal time period requirements before they have to do a renovation,” Arnold said.
In addition to the new JC renovations, another food option, Freshii, will be available in the new Academic VII building. Freshii offers juices, salads, burritos and soups, to name a few items.
The JC renovations are expected to be completed by the end of summer, just in time for students coming back to start the Fall 2017 semester. In the meantime, students can also enjoy Dunkin’ Donuts, opening in Tidewater this March.