Food services fishes for diners with new options

Michelle Ma

Weinberg freshman Anique Pegeron watched the chef carefully press crab meat, cucumbers, carrots and avocado between white rice and shape the contents into a California roll.

But instead of getting her dinner at a sushi bar in Evanston, Pegeron was ordering from the recently added sushi bar at Willie’s Food Court in Norris University Center.

“I have had the premade sushi here before,” said Pegeron, who was trying the fresh sushi for the first time. “I have sushi sometimes because I like variety.”

New additions to Northwestern’s food and dining options, such as the sushi bar, aim to provide students with more choices, said Rick Thomas, Norris’ new executive director.

Other changes include more dinner selections at Norris and a new convenience store at 1835 Hinman, Thomas said.

Premade sushi was so popular last year that the fresh sushi bar seemed to be a logical next step, Thomas said.

Now, sushi bar chefs make the Japanese dishes on a daily basis and then distribute it to other eating venues on campus, Thomas said. The daily preparation makes the sushi fresher than it was last year, when it was made the night before.

“Now we’re getting a fresher product even in the ‘to-go’ parts,” Thomas said.

Willie’s Big Ten Bistro now offers a different “upscale” entree option each night, said Chris Gargiulo, general manager for Norris dining. Entree selections include steak, salmon and swordfish.

Gargiulo said the new selections will give students the opportunity to enjoy a fancier dinner using the same amount of WildCARD points as they would for a normal meal in Norris.

The Norris C-store, which opened last January, provides students with more options this year, Gargiulo said. A new organic food section offers students a variety of cheeses, yogurt and hummus. Next week, Gargiulo said, the store will offer kosher sandwiches and salads.

He said the new items are selling well.

“We can’t keep the organics and sushi on the shelves,” Gargiulo said.

Weekly student taste tests will help stock C-store shelves with food students want to eat, Gargiulo said.

“We always like to try new things,” Gargiulo said. “We have tastings (in Norris) to get input from students.”

A new C-store near Hinman’s dining hall also opened this quarter and should give South Campus students more food and product selections, said Anne VanOsdol, assistant director for conference planning and food service.

“We found an area (on campus) where students weren’t served,” VanOsdol said. “Now we’ve saturated campus (with convenience stores) pretty well.”

The new C-store’s selection includes cooler items, sandwiches, snacks and hygiene products, said Richard Giger, manager of Hinman’s dining hall. Few students living outside of the dorm have been using the new store, which Giger said has resulted in slow business.

“Most students like it, when they know its here,” Giger said. “If they don’t come to Hinman, they don’t know it’s here.”

Reach Michelle Ma at [email protected]