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The new layout of the Rice Memorial Center

By Hallie Jordan     8/20/11 7:00pm

Sammy's swaps food



 

Droubi's, a local Houston Mediterranean restaurant, has replaced the food vendor Sammy's. This new business is intended to offer more food options on campus, especially for graduate students, faculty and staff during lunch. The tentative hours are 11a.m. to 7p.m. 

 

"It fits in well because it can offer catering and help keep buisness," Student Association President Georgia Lagoudas said. "We wanted a business that could supportthemselves."

 

Though Mediterranean food is a specific food selection, Associate Vice President of Housing and Dining Mark Ditman said the establishment serves food from all of the Mediterranean region, not just one country. It also has a small American food menu for those who do not like their other options. 

 

"Droubi's expressed interest to do anything that is viable," Ditman said. "We dont have the population density to support a whole lot of different retail operations. If you are a UT or A&M you have all kinds of density to support everything."

 

Many Jones Business School graduate students have night classes during dinner time, making them a target consumer for Droubi's, Ditman said. 

 

The SA survey indicated for the open ended comments that Mediteranean food was something many students were interested in, Senior Director of H&D David McDonald said. 

 

"One of the most popular cuisines trend wise and with the student responses and what we know about the Droubi's that is already in existence in Houston it was a natural choice," Mc- Donald said.

 

Willy's to add new location 

 

Little Willy's, an offshoot of Willy's Pub, will move into Coffeehouse's recently vacated space selling sandwiches and pizza by the slice during lunch hours from 11 a.m. to 2p.m. 

 

"I think because its a student group they are going to better fill the need of student body and they are flexible to demands of hungry college kid," Assistant Director of the Student Center Erin Willey said. "Something quick and easy and kind of like comfort food is what you need when you are exhausted."

 

The student business will start out this week selling cold wraps and sandwiches and hopes to have pizza by the slice and toasted sandwiches by the end of the week, General Manager Betsy Blanks said. 

 

"With 13th Street leaving, we thought it was a good opportunity for Pub because a lot of people don't realize we have food," Blanks said. "And this is the first year we are making the food ourselves."

 

Little Willy's was given most of 13th Street's old equipment, Associate Vice President for Housing and Dining Mark Ditman said. 

 

"There are a lot of people in the community who are need a slice of pizza and I really just want a sandwich and chips and a drink and based on feed back that we have gotten over summer, this is a good business move," Willey said. " There have been a lot people wondering when pub is going to open, we are really excited."

 

Rice Coffeehouse moves into Kelley Lounge

 

After years of working to find a new space to relocate or expand, Coffeehouse has moved into the Kelley Lounge in the Rice Memorial Center. 

 

The RMC directors made the decision to help Coffeehouse relocate after analyzing student surveys conducted in the past few years, Boyd Beckwith Assistant Dean for Student Center and Campus Wide programs said. 

 

"I want to say how proud I am of the Coffeehouse and the student managers and how well they have done based on how little they have had," Beckwith said. "This space is going to transform the life of the student center."

 

Based on the amount of business Coffeehouse has been getting recently, General Manager Christine Cooper feels the new space has been much needed. By the end of this summer, sales were triple what they were at the end of last summer, Cooper said. 

 

"I'm over the moon about it," Cooper, a Baker College senior, said. "I spent the whole summer working on this project. I think it is very well deserved."

 

Coffehouse spent $40,000 from their own profit money savings to buy new equipment, such as an espresso machine, food display case and refrigerators, among other items. 

 

With their new equipment and space the business also hopes to broaden their catering service which they started last year, Cooper said. 

 

The RMC paid to renovate Kelley Lounge. The new space has sealed concrete floors, in place of the old carpet, wood paneling wall decorations made from recycled Autry floor boards and will have new furniture by September, Beckwith said. 

 

While Coffeehouse paid for their own equipment, Rice paid $220,000 to cover the cost of the renovations, Facilities Engineering and Planning Communications ManagerSusann Glenn said. 

 

"All the ways we had originally looked at for expanding Coffeehouse were way to expensive," Beckwith said. "The Coffeehosue has been identified as the number one thing students like about the Student Center the Coffeehose was always ranked number one, so I think its going to go through the roof given the new space."

 

Coffeehouse plans to expand their selection of foods this year to include a larger variety of baked goods including vegan and gluten free options as well as sandwiches, Cooper said. 

 

The business is currently looking to hire after many member of their staff graduated.

 

New convenience store

 

Based on results from the survey conducted last semester about what students wanted in the Rice Memorial Center, 13th Street has been replaced by a Barnes and Noble run convenience store called RechargeU. 

 

The store carries snack items, some toiletries and cleaning supplies, as well as sandwiches and candy. 

 

The Student Association created a survey specifically about a potential convenience store at Rice at the end of last semester. According to the survey results, undergraduates indicated that sandwiches were the number one item desired, closely followed by fresh fruits, snacks, baked goods, milk and eggs. 

 

The survey also showed that students wanted a store to be open late at night from 11 p.m. until 6 a.m. 

 

The tentative store hours for RechargeU are from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. 

 

However, RechargeU is willing to change their hours if there is a market for it, Manager Prince Wright said. 

 

"If campus needs us to stay up later we have no problem with doing that," Wright said. 

 

They will do test runs on certain days staying open later during the first few weeks of school, Wright said. 

 

Wright also specified that the current stock items can be changed based on student wishes. 

 

"We are absolutely going to adjust inventory," Wright said. "We will ask what are some items that they may or may not want. I think we have been doing very well and that our popularity is already going up."

 

RechargeU is operated by Barnes and Noble and has a few other locations at other Universities. 

 

"The SA asked we developed a Cstore and at the time Barnes and Noble was developing a concept that looked like a good opportunity to leverage their presence, especially as book sales are declining at bookstores," Associate Vice President of Housing and Dining Mark Ditman said. "We thought about making one ourselves but Barnes and Noble could do a better job based on what we saw."

 

The pricing in the store will be competitive with other campus vendors, Senior Director of H&D David McDonald said.



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