Campus dining just took on a bit of Southwestern flair.
Qdoba, one of the top Mexican food franchises in America, has signed a contract to become the fourth new food vendor that will serve the campus community when renovation of the Holmes Student Center’s lower level is completed.
“We are very excited about Qdoba coming to campus, and we believe that the campus community will be too,” said Dan Koenen, executive director of campus dining services. “When we surveyed the campus about what they wanted, a Tex-Mex option was among the favorites, and Qdoba is one of the best in that category.”
The restaurant prides itself on putting a creative twist on standard fare and places a premium on fresh ingredients, including guacamole and pico de gallo made on-site daily, meats that are flame grilled moments before they are served and slow roasted meats cooked on premises every day. The Holmes Student Center location will serve the entire Qdoba menu and, like all of the chain’s locations, will invite customers to create their own specialty items from available ingredients – with a promise to replace experiments gone wrong at no cost.
Qdoba is the final offering on a new and extremely diverse menu of dining options that will be available in the student center. Others include:
- A large Starbucks store offering the chain’s full menu of not just coffees and teas, but also sandwiches, salads, baked goods and more.
- The Huskie Grill, which will feature an extensive menu ranging from appetizers like chili fries and jalapeno poppers, to chicken strips and burgers, to salads and wraps. The dessert menu features deep fried, Twinkies drizzled with chocolate. Beer and wine also will be available.
- A convenience store with a wide selection of grab-and-go foods and a sub sandwich shop.
- Sandella’s at the College Grind, on the second floor, will continue to offer grilled flatbreads, wraps, salads, rice bowls, paninis and other healthy choices.
All of those restaurants will accept cash, debit and credit cards, as well as Huskie Bucks and the Flex Dollars available as part of many meal plans.
“Our goal is to give students a broader range of dining options, from excellent offerings in our residence hall dining centers to a full range of exciting franchises spread across campus,” said Koenen.
The collection of restaurants at the student center will be the hub for all of those offerings and Koenen expects that the new eateries will not only catch on quickly with students, but also will become an attraction for NIU employees.
“We hope that the Holmes Student Center becomes destination dining – a place where students, faculty and staff can come together and share a meal side-by-side in a dynamic atmosphere that offers a broad range of choices to please just about any palate,” Koenen said.
The campus will have to be a little patient to get its first taste of Qdoba’s famous queso, however.
The Starbucks and the convenience store are expected to open their doors November The Huskie Grill should fire up shortly thereafter, but because those restaurants had a substantial head start on construction, Qdoba is not expected to being serving until sometime around March.
Expanded dining options are only one facet of the upgrades being done at the student center. When work is completed this fall the revamped lower level will include spacious, comfortable lounges where students can meet, study or just relax. There will also be a new lounge on the west side of the building specifically dedicated to the needs of those waiting for Huskie Line buses.
A new bookstore, run by Follett (the nation’s largest operator of college bookstore), a new front desk for the student center hotel, and offices and common meeting areas for student organizations such as the Campus Activities Board and the Student Association. A revamped Huskie Den, including a stage for small musical performances, will also be featured.