Check out what’s new with Mason food

Details on the finished JC renovations and other food around campus

By Fareeha Rehman, Co-Editor-in-Chief

Last semester, we reported on renovations starting in the Johnson Center. After Spring break, students saw one side of the JC food court walled off for construction. Both IndAroma and Red Hot and Blue were moved to the bottom level. Now that the JC has been unveiled for the Fall semester, here are your new dining options:



If you are a fan of: Cava

Main food options: Plates, pitas, salads, and more can be stuffed with Mediterranean inspired options such as falafel (deep-fried balls of mashed chickpeas or beans), gyro meat (typically beef or chicken cooked on a vertical rotisserie), hummus (a thick spread made of chickpeas), and baba ganoush (an eggplant based dish).

Fun fact: Though Southside and the Globe offer some halal meat options, Garbanzo is officially the second location on campus to serve all-halal meat, after IndAroma.


Blaze Pizza

If you are a fan of: Manhattan Pizza

Main food options: Blaze offers fast-fired whole pizzas in 180 seconds (3 minutes). Students have the option to order from a selection of signature pizzas for $7.95, such as the “Veg Out.”. Or if you are a bit picky, building your own pizza is the same price. If you’re only hungry enough for a single slice, it’s best to take a walk to Manhattan.

Fun fact: Blaze offers gluten-free dough at an additional charge.


Steak ‘n Shake

If you are a fan of: Shake Shack

Main food options: Students had a taste of this burger joint through the food truck last spring, but with a permanent space in the JC now established, students can easily grab a milkshake, a steakburger and fries between classes.

Fun fact: Mason is the first Virginia university to offer Steak ‘n Shake.


Guac’s a little extra and so is Chipotle’s construction time. Unfortunately for students eager to have the Mexican inspired burritos or bowls, Chipotle does not have a confirmed date to open.  According to Mark Kraner, Executive Director of Campus Retail Operations, the permitting process for Chipotle has been a challenge. Whenever Chipotle and Mason can come to an agreement, 120 days will be needed for construction.


In the meantime, students will have to continue getting their fix at nearby off-campus locations, such as the Chipotle on Burke Center Parkway.


What’s changed?

Let’s talk about Taco Bell. You may have noticed that the go-to for cheap eats in SUB 1 has disappeared, replaced by Akeno Sushi. According to Kraner, “The license for Taco Bell was expiring and with the Chipotle signing, Taco Bell chose to end the license.”

Akeno sells not only sushi, but ramen and udon. Their ramen could be a bit tastier than the packs in your kitchen pantry. Flavor options include vegetable miso ramen and seafood ramen, at $7.99. Udon is similar to ramen in that it is noodles and soup, but the udon noodle is much thicker. Udon options include teriyaki chicken, pork, and tempura shrimp, among more. Along with ramen and udon, Akeno sells three types of tea: regular hot or iced tea, bubble tea, and milk tea. Akeno Sushi may not be a permanent fix, however. According to Kraner, it “is under review for a year. Surveys and focus groups will be held during the year to determine the direction for next year.”

Lastly, Peet’s coffee fans, brace yourselves: Peet’s locations in Exploratory and Innovation have now converted to Starbucks Proudly Served spots. Starbucks fans, rejoice!

Have something to say about the new dining options? Submit your thoughts for a chance to be published in our Opinions section! Email with subject “Opinion submission – (Dining)”


Fall hours of operation

Steak ‘n Shake

Monday – Friday: 8am to 9pm

Saturday and Sunday: 11am to 8pm


Monday – Thursday: 11am to 9pm

Friday – Sunday: 11am to 8pm

Blaze Pizza

Monday – Thursday: 11am to 9pm

Friday – Sunday: 11am to 8pm

Akeno Sushi (SUB 1)

Monday – Thursday: 11am to 5pm

Friday: 11am to 3pm

Saturday and Sunday: closed

Starbucks Proudly Served (Innovation)

Monday – Thursday: 7am to 5pm

Friday – Sunday: closed

Starbucks Proudly Served (Exploratory)

Monday – Friday: 8:30am to 4pm

Saturday and Sunday: closed

Photo by Mimi Albano