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Friday, October 19, 2018

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Chartwells: Houston-based restaurants, 24-hour Starbucks coming to UH


Chartwells’ Resident District Manager David Riddle introduced the dining plans for the next five years to the public in a town hall meeting on Wednesday. | McKenzie Misiaszek/The Cougar

UH Dining publicly announced its five year vision plan for the first time Wednesday in the Midtown room of Student Center South.

A representative from Chartwells, the company responsible for the majority of on-campus dining establishments, was present. David Riddle, Chartwells’ resident district manager, laid out the upcoming changes.

Moving forward, Chartwells aims to improve access to food across campus, expand space to meet the growing campus population, increase food variety to include more cultural options, modernize retail and residential dining and increase student engagement.

“What I really pushed the most was making sure we had a variety of options for all students,” said Christopher Caldwell, a political science senior and chairman of the Food Service Advisory Committee. “We have a big rise of vegetarian and vegan students, we have gluten free students, we have students of different culture and religious backgrounds.”

Students did not hold back during the open forum.

Biomedical sciences sophomore Christina Dias had concerns about the dining hours at Cougar Woods. Although she is excited for the new concepts, she feels they need to focus on hours above anything else. Riddle and Caldwell agreed to look into the matter.

Marketing junior Michael Fulfs asked if Chartwells’ vision would include bringing more local vendors to campus.

“Houston is known as the food capital of the south,” Fulfs said.

The answer is yes. When the new retail center is built at the old Technology Annex, the majority of the restaurants students will see will be expansions of current Houston locations. Riddle said he does not yet know which vendors will be included, but East Asian concepts along with a taqueria type options are planned.

The new retail space will be a food hall instead of a food court, said Riddle. In a food hall, cooks are put back in the station, instead of machines. There is also a greater social aspect to food halls where as in a food court one would sit down, eat and immediately leave.

“As student tastes change, we can try out different things without shelling out a million bucks,” Riddle said.

More on campus eateries will now include new gluten free, halal and dairy free options. The soonest students will see more halal options will be Mondo Subs, which is now under construction where Cougar Byte once resided. The sandwich place will offer halal chicken and beef options.

Along with local options, more Starbucks locations are in the works, including an around-the-clock station planned for the library.

“As if you couldn’t have enough Starbucks already, now you can have it 24/7,” Riddle said.

Nutrition sophomore Aleena Kuruvilla was concerned about the noise the future Starbucks would bring to the library. During Finals Fiesta, she said, the library is already too loud for studying.

The Starbucks is expected to open Fall 2020 near the vending machines in the 24-hour lobby.

If any members of the UH community have lingering concerns about dining on campus, FSAC has meetings the first Friday of every month, Caldwell said.

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