Campus Center's food court facelift underway

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Renovations on the Campus Center food court have begun. The multimillion-dollar project will take a year, and it will introduce new dining options, more space and better logistics for students, staff and faculty members. Image courtesy of Auxiliary Services

The renovation of the Campus Center food court that began this summer is setting the table for a new look and a new lineup of dining choices for IUPUI students, staff and faculty members.

A partnership between the university and Chartwells, construction in the food court area is expected to last until August 2019. The space will welcome popular Chinese food chain Panda Express and Simply PUUR, a grab-and-go café whose menu features many locally sourced and prepared-from-scratch foods, including vegetarian selections. The renovation is an answer to a busier campus.

"With new residential halls and housing around the IUPUI perimeter the last five years," said Angie Hill, director of operations for IUPUI Auxiliary Services, of the renovations, "we've had a tremendous population growth."

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The once-familar walls around the Campus Center food court are gone, making way for major renovations. Photo by Tim Brouk, Indiana University

Chick-fil-A and Papa John's will remain, while a "student choice" section will fill out the dining lineup. Students will be able to vote between a selection of concepts including: Tu Taco, Za'tar (Mediterranean), Smoked (barbecue), The Egg Shoppe (breakfast), Iron Waffles, SMASH'D (baked potatoes), Burger 317 and Rooted (vegetarian), among others. Voting is expected to start in the spring.

Simply PUUR will replace the Outtakes convenience store, while Outtakes will be rebranded as The Market. The convenience store's new location will be in the food court area; it is expected to open around Thanksgiving. Outtakes will remain in its current location until The Market is ready for business.

"Everything is on track," said Stacy Blanton, resident district manager at IUPUI for Chartwells. "It was a long time in the making. As far as traffic flow and customer service, that's what was driving a lot of the decisions that we came up with."

The renovation will improve the aesthetic appeal, function and efficiency of the Campus Center food court. The walls that once encased the perimeter of the area are already gone. The food court will be more open, visible and inviting to all who visit the Campus Center. Seating capacity in the food court will increase 20 percent -- to 380 -- and offer a mix of different seating options, from rail seating to large communal tables to club seating. Wait times will decrease because each food location will offer its own cash registers, rather than all using a centralized pay station, so customers will only need to stand in line one time.

The Campus Center food court will remain open throughout the renovation period and offer plenty of seating, but some tables will be moved to the second and theater levels to accommodate construction. All food options will be available, but they could be temporarily relocated. Signage will indicate which food options are being offered and where.

Simmer's pho soups and stir-fry dishes have been relocated to Tower Dining's Chef's Table station, while Grill Nation will move to Simmer's former location in the Campus Center on Monday, Aug. 20.

"We love the way that it's coming together, for sure," Blanton said. "With the wall coming down, it gives a whole new perspective to the food court. It's like a whole new place."

Renderings of the new Campus Center food court. Images courtesy of Auxiliary Services