SRU food partner, AVI Fresh, implements expanded dining options and hours

Students waiting in line at T&B Fresh

At the newly remodeled and expanded T&B Naturally inside Bailey Library, a few of the new highlights include the addition of Panini sandwiches, fresh soups and chef-inspired salads.

Jan. 24, 2018

SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - When Slippery Rock University students talk, AVI Fresh, the University's contracted food provider, listens. And, more importantly responds.

"Student feedback plays a huge part in everything we do on this campus," said Joe Balaban, resident district manager for AVI and former director of dining at SRU.

As a result of that feedback AVI received through comment cards, online surveys and intercept interviews, patrons of SRU dining services were greeted with several new and exciting menu options and extended dining hours when they returned for the start of the spring semester

According to Balaban, in addition to his staff's daily interactions with diners, AVI management also conducts focus groups with students, visiting each residence hall twice each year to collect feedback.

"That talk back we receive is very important and can allow us to better tailor the dining experience to our customers," said Balaban. "For example, a year or so ago, there was a big outcry for more home-style options. That led to a mac and cheese bar, a mashed potato bar and a dip bar with buffalo chicken, spinach, artichoke and sweet (M&M, cookie dough) options that went over really well and switched things up a little."

This semester's switch up is more like a 180-degree turn.

A number of operations now feature extended hours of operation, including: T&B Naturally, Umami, Starbucks and Campus Drive Grill. A slew of new menu options have arrived as well.

At the newly remodeled and expanded T&B Naturally inside Bailey Library, a few of the new highlights include the addition of Panini sandwiches, fresh soups, chef-inspired salads and a "Pick Two" option that will offer diners any combination of a half sandwich, cup of soup or salad. In addition, the café menu has added stuffed croissants, pastry items and pre-packaged "Minute Meals" for those on the run.

T&B diners will now be able to pre-order food items and drinks offered on the menu ahead of time, by using an updated Get Food app. The app offers options for immediate pickup as well as placing an advanced order for the following day.

The updated GET Food app will allow students to pre-order food items and drinks offered on the menu ahead of time, with options for immediate pickup as well as placing an advanced order for the following day.

Payment options will include flex, credit cards and debit cards. Customers will receive order confirmations through email with items available for pickup at the T&B pickup window.

The GET Food program can be accessed either online at get.cbord.com/sru or by downloading the app from Google Play or the Apple app store by searching "cbord get."

T&B Naturally has also expanded its Sunday hours from 2-9 p.m.

Not to be left out, Boozel Dining Hall has added premium meal options and "pop up kitchens" to its offerings.

"Premium meal options," said Balaban, "allow students to walk right in and order a New York strip steak, a pork chop, a filet or even duck, for just an additional swipe or with flex dollars if they choose.

"It's a meal enhancement or upgrade available to them if they want something beyond a 'regular' meal. It's about adding value to their dining experience and being able to better utilize their meal plan with an upgraded choice. Where else are you going to be able to order a New York strip (steak) for $8.95?"

Pop-up kitchens, featuring "Chef Dave" showcasing AVI's Produce 365 program are scheduled for twice a month.

Boozel Express is also getting in on the action by adding a student favorite, walking tacos - Doritos covered in a heaping helping of ground meat - and "Boozel Bowls."

"Think KFC Famous Bowls," Balaban said. "We'll have rice-based, mashed potato-based and a noodle-based options to choose from with multiple toppings and various ethnic choices, such as an Asian or Mexican bowl."

Breakfast fanciers will be overjoyed to learn that a rotating breakfast bar is now available at Elia inside Weisenfluh Dining Hall. Rotating between pancakes, waffles and French toast, entrees will be made to order and feature a variety of assorted toppings and sauces.

"Breakfast is huge at Weisenfluh, which is why we went that route with Elia," Balaban said.

Students will also have the option of using meal swipes at Elia on Saturdays and Sundays, from noon to 5 p.m., beginning Jan. 27.

Another Weisenfluh favorite, Umami, which offers a variety of made to order rice and noodle bowls, as well as fresh hand rolled sushi, has expanded hours that include: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Friday.

The final menu change comes courtesy of Flatz at Watson, where "Minute Meals," similar to those feature at T&B Naturally, will join a lineup that now boasts warm cinnamon buns and "Rock Tarts."

Much like their Pop-tart counterparts, Rock Tarts are homemade toaster pastries filled with either raspberry, strawberry, apple cinnamon or cinnamon sugar fillings.

"Much like we do anytime we roll out a new menu offering, we'll ask diners what they think and react accordingly to the rotation and frequency of our Rock Tart flavors," Balaban said. "But I will say this ... they are amazing."

Campus Drive Grill, adjacent to North Hall, enters the spring semester with expanded hours of operation that include: 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Thursday; and 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Friday.

Starbucks, located inside the Smith Student Center, has also extended its operational hours. The coffee juggernaut is now open 7:30 a.m. to midnight, Monday through Thursday; 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday; and 10 a.m. to midnight, Sunday.

"At the end of the day, it's our job to make sure that the students have the best dining experience we can deliver," said Balaban. "And if we aren't listening to them and responding accordingly, then we're not doing our job."

Balaban said diners should expect to see AVI continuing to seek out their opinions and preferences. "We'll continue to provide a number of formal opportunities for our users to tell us what they think, but if anyone has a comment, question or recommendation they can always contact me via email at: jbalaban@avifoodsystems.com to let us know what is on their minds."

MEDIA CONTACT: Robb King | 724.738.2199 | robb.king@sru.edu