Safer dining outdoors featured on campus menu
Story by Mike Kilen
Photos by David Kadlubowski
GCU News Bureau
More than ever, dining on the Grand Canyon University campus will be al fresco this year. The pandemic has led to restricted indoor dining and a shift to the outdoors, where viruses spread less and physical distancing is easier.
Dozens of café tables, chairs, picnic tables, canopies and shade tents have been added or relocated to campus walkways.
Many of them are set up along Lopes Way, the front and side of the Student Union, Thunder Alley, flanking Building 25 and Antelope Gym and between the Buildings 18 and 26. Outdoor furniture also was relocated to the front of Roadrunner Apartments and in smaller numbers in other locations. Diners can also take a seat in the soccer, baseball or softball stadiums.
“The whole intent is to have a place for students to go outside and eat so they don’t feel like they are trapped in a room,” said James Kossler, Vice President of Facilities Planning and Operations. “It’s great Arizona weather, so let’s take advantage of that.”
It’s just part of the changes in dining that students, faculty and staff will see as the campus repopulates the third week of September.
New food carts offer the resurrection of an old favorite – Taco Thunder – on Lopes Way and the Ball Park Burgers stand run by Canyon 49 Grill near Antelope Gym.
Taco Thunder, described as a “nice, authentic street taco,” will take the place of Canyon Crepes in the lineup of 32 campus dining options, said John Milleson, resident district manager of Sodexo.
Also, grab-n-go food will be available at stadium concessions stands.
- Menu items at some locations may be more limited to shorten the number of people waiting indoors.
- The Lopacellis Pasta cart moves across the Student Union to flank the Harvest Kitchen island, which will not have a self-serve salad bar. Students will be able to get salads served to them, however.
- The salad bar at the Herd Stop also will not be open because of safety precautions, but Milleson is eager to get feedback on a new lineup of deli sandwich options at the store, which opened last year on the ground floor of Antelope Apartments. He says the venue is the quality of a “New York-style deli counter,” and one addition he is proud of is the Philly Cheesesteak sandwich, which was requested by students.
To have requests heard, Milleson urges students to take advantage of a free meal with his Lunch with the Manager program, where he gathers feedback on the dining options that students want. Follow @gcudining on Instagram for more information.
Rest assured, the favorites are still around. Last year’s top-selling venue was no surprise – Chick-fil-A. Habit Burger, Einstein Bros. Bagels and Subway were next, though a sentimental favorite may be the student-run coffee shop, GCBC.
Grand Canyon University senior writer Mike Kilen can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-6764.
GCU Today: New campus market feeds healthy-eating needs