Starbucks, other dining changes and a bowling alley coming to NIU student center

January 10, 2019

DeKALB – Coffee lovers, rejoice: Starbucks is coming to Northern Illinois University, among many other campus additions.

Dan Koenen, executive director of NIU’s campus dining services, said the university decided a few years ago to renovate the ground floor of the Holmes Student Center, 340 Carroll Ave., and that renovations should include additional dining options for the campus community.

“Students, faculty, and staff surveys were done on what type of food venues they’d like,” Koenen said Thursday. “Not only was coffee one of the most popular responses, but Starbucks was the number one brand identified on the survey.”

Set to be completed by late 2019 or spring 2020 at the latest, the ground floor renovations will also include a Huskie Convenience Center, another campus bookstore, and the Huskie Den, which will incorporate a bowling alley, a Huskie grill, and a stage area. One other nationally known food vendor will be coming in as part of the renovation,, according to Koenen, but he said details for that project are still ongoing and could not reveal the name.

“Details are still being decided,” Koenen said. “But all [venues] will be operated by the university and we will employ some full-time NIU staff and some students.”

The Holmes Student Center renovation project will be completed funded through NIU’s remaining Build America Bonds, said Koenen, which NIU collected back when the Obama administration issued bonds to state agencies as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, following the Great Recession.

Additionally, a few more dining changes will be coming to NIU’s business building, Barsema Hall, and the Stevenson Residential Hall. Koenen said Barsema is getting an Italian bistro and more “grab-and-go” options. Stevenson’s renovations will see a more substantial update.

“We’re renovating an all-you-can-eat location into a retail food court,” Koenen said.

The Stevenson food court will include a regional brand sub sandwich chain, which Koenen could not yet identify, and two self-branded vendors for pizza and grill food. The convenience store at Stevenson will be expanded, too. The dining additions to the two halls is expected to be completed for the beginning of the 2019-2020 school year, Koenen said.

Meal options for students will also be amended, to adjust for the growth in convenience store and grab-and-go options coming in, and include flex dollars to spend at the chain locations.

All of this is in an effort to provide the campus community with flexibility when it comes to food and social spaces on campus.

“It’s my hope that we’ll keep people on campus, drive engagement, and just make the campus a good place to be,” Keonen said.

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