AVI Fresh adjusts SRU menu options for spring semester


AVi chef cutting meat

Based on feedback from Slippery Rock University students, AVI Fresh is making improvements to its dining options for the spring 2019 semester.

J an. 22, 2019

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - When it comes to dining options at Slippery Rock University, there's apparently a big appetite for change. That's why AVI Fresh, the University's contracted food vendor, surveys SRU students each semester and responds to their feedback with new menu offerings and improvements to the overall dining experience.

Joe Balaban, resident district manager for AVI, recognizes the need to constantly evolve the menus and services offered to campus diners, and, as a result of last fall's dining survey and face-to-face feedback from students, more changes than what are typically made between the fall and spring semesters are being implemented.

"Students' tastes have changed so much in the last 10 years," Balaban said. "They are exposed to different cuisines and calibers of food that are more accessible now than ever before. If we kept everything the same, people would get tired of it."

Balaban said there are many reasons why students have gained access to more dining possibilities, from the popularity of television shows on the Food Network to the trend of restaurants offering a made-your-way ordering process. Customized orders that are prepared in front of customers, like what is experienced by diners at Chipotle, or by having guests check off their choices on notepads the way they do at many gourmet burger bars is just part of the dining evolution.

"I don't blame (students for wanting options)," Balaban said. "Especially for residential students, this is their main source of food and beverage. You try to keep it interesting and keep it fresh. People, in general, are now used to the made-your-way or made-to-order process. You order off a simple menu but you're creating what you want. That's the culture."

AVI waded into those waters with the concept restaurants at Weisenfluh Dining Hall, as Horizons, Umami and The Met, already offer customized ordering.

But changes are afoot as The Met, a customizable burger concept, will become a chicken-themed station known as CHX for the spring semester. It will continue to offer custom-made burgers. In addition, Elia will be renamed Craft, offering more meal choices that can be applied to students' plans via a "meal swipe," while continuing to offer retail selections like coffees, pastries, milkshakes and smoothies.

Balaban said there will be more interactive dining experiences and themed dinners, allowing students to make their own ravioli or decorate their own cupcakes, as well as sensory experiences like a flambé chef cooking dishes in front of guests or musical accompaniment during themed meals.

Other changes for the spring semester will include:

• A new menu at Campus Drive Grill that includes cheesesteak, as well as vegan and vegetarian options. Taco Tuesdays will remain.
• Umami at Weisenfluh will have a new "cold bowl" option with a healthier selection of vegetables and grains placed in a to-go cooler that can be reheated later.
• The stations at Boozel Express will be streamlined so that people can collect all the contents to create a bagged lunch.
• T&B Naturally, the café inside Bailey Library, will add a third staffer during daytime hours, four days a week, to provide shorter wait times.
• The menu at Boozel Dining Hall will cycle through twice in the six weeks before spring break with a new menu cycling through twice in the six weeks after spring break. The three-week cycle means students may only see the same item once or twice in a six-week period as opposed to three times for the entire semester.
• There will be expanded menus at Boozel's comfort food bar, homestyle line and roots station, while the yogurt bar will be available throughout the day and the salad bar will be expanded.

MEDIA CONTACT: Justin Zackal | 724.738.4854 | justin.zackal@sru.edu