Changes coming to MU dining services in 2019

September 19, 2018

Students are seen congregating outside the Memorial Student Center on Marshall University's campus. Several changes to the restaurant setup inside the center are planned for 2019, school officials announced.

HUNTINGTON – This time next year, dining on the campus of Marshall University will look much different with lots of new options students have been seeking for years.

The university renewed a 10-year contract with Sodexo, which has provided dining services to Marshall since 1988. The contract will begin in the fall of 2019.

The new contract means new additions to the Memorial Student Center and Towers Dining Hall.

In the student center beginning August 2019, students, faculty and guests will be able to purchase food from a full-service Chick-fil-A, Taco Bell Express, local Italian restaurant La Famiglia, Steak’n’Shake and Huntington Market. The food court will be renovated to an open-concept with the student center lobby and each station will have designated check-out registers.

The student center will also offer new latenight and weekend options.

“This is really going to add to the vibrancy of campus life and really encourage students to stick around on campus and on the weekends more because they will feel like they have options,” said Mistie Bibbee, director of Housing and Residence Life.

Towers will feature The Den by Denny’s, Mein Bowl and a 1837 Market, which will be a convenience store including a deli, also by August 2019.

Phase One of the project will also include renovating the concession stands and reconfiguring student meal plans to accommodate the changes.

Phase Two, which will begin January 2020, will bring an Einstein Brother’s Bagels to the Robert C. Byrd Biotechnology Science Building, a welcome addition to the north side of campus with few food options, and a Natural juice bar to the Rec Center. The Smith Hall grab-and-go will also be renovated, along with some updates to Harless Dining Hall and the Drinko Library cafe.

All of the updates will be complete by July 2021.

“I really think it’s going to change the face of dining on campus and it’s going to be huge for the students,” Bibbee said.

Tootie Carter, business manager of the Memorial Student Center, said when they were researching and going through their options, they wanted a “wow” factor.

“What, in 2019 when we have this done, will make them come back and think ‘Oh my gosh, this is exciting. I can’t wait,’” Carter said. “The word is out a little already and they are already excited.”

Carter said students have been asking for a Taco Bell for years, and they are also excited to be able to bring in a local option. Carter said it’s a win-win for everyone.

La Famiglia owner Ralph Hagy said he is very excited to be able to partner with Marshall and serve students on campus.

The restaurant will serve a limited menu with all the La Famiglia favorites from Napoletana style pizza to the infamous meatball sandwich. They will also have gluten free options. He said everything will be fresh made.

“We are a Marshall family,” Hagy said. “We have been here for eight years and to be able to be involved with Marshall in a more in-depth way is very exciting.”

The changes mean this is the last year for students to enjoy Pizza Hut, Freshens smoothies, Sub Connection, Oodles and the Herd Grille.

As part of the new contract, Sodexo employees will also wear new, Marshall-themed uniforms. Carter said he hopes the change makes the Sodexo staff feel more a part of the Marshall family.

Follow reporter Taylor Stuck on Twitter and Facebook @TaylorStuckHD.

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