nuCuisine reduces hours for food court, Frontera Fresco


Sarah Nelson/Daily Senior Staffer

Students sit outside Willie’s Food Court in Norris, which now closes earlier each day due to recent changes put in place by nuCuisine. The food court will now be open until 3 p.m. each weekday.

Ally Mutnick, Reporter

Willie’s Food Court in Norris University Center will not be open for dinner on weekdays this year due to what officials call a lack of business.

The reduced hours are part of a slew of changes to campus dining options. The Varsity Grill and the station alternating between Wildcat Wok and the Pasta Bowl, which open at 11 a.m., will now close at 3 p.m. instead of 7 p.m. Frontera Fresco will now close completely at 7 p.m. instead of offering a limited menu until 10 p.m.

(Great Room closing, Allison opening on weekends among nuCuisine changes)

The hours went into effect Fall Quarter after nuCuisine and Norris staff analyzed traffic patterns in the food court during the spring and summer, said Steve Mangan, district manager for nuCuisine.

“It’s very difficult to keep everything open and not do any business with them,” Mangan said. “After 3 p.m. our business in Willie’s dropped off precipitously.”

Frontera is also closing earlier due to lack of business, Mangan said. The Paws ‘n Go C-Store, the C-store in Norris, and North Shore Pizza Company will maintain their weekday hours of 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Subway, which is being built in the space previously occupied by Windy City Deli, nuSushi and Big Ten Cafe, will be open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mangan said it will offer healthier late night dining options.

(ASG, students offer mixed reviews on new Subway in Norris)

Associated Student Government was not involved in the decision or given prior notice, said Alex Van Atta, ASG executive vice president.

Van Atta, a McCormick senior, said he found out about the changes a couple weeks ago from a friend who worked at Norris. Van Atta confirmed the change via email with Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president for student auxiliary services, and Norris executive director Kelly Schaefer.

Norris is currently accepting applications for a student advisory board online. Van Atta said he hopes the board can incorporate more student input in future decisions. The loss of the food court stations is concerning, Van Atta said, because it leaves late night food options lacking.

“Usually we have conversations about these things,” Van Atta said. “Hopefully the infrastructure is now being put into place so something like this would be able to go through the right channels.”

Communication sophomore Theanne Liu said she switched her meal plan to a block system this year so she could eat more at Norris using equivalency meals.

Liu practices with the concert band at Norris and sometimes finishes late at night after her friends have already eaten. She planned to get dinner at Willie’s Food Court before going back to her dorm.

“Now that’s not happening,” she said.

Mangan noted that Subway will remain open two hours later than the food court had previously. The brand will offer healthier, low-calorie sandwiches and salads.

“As we’ve talked with students, we’ve had several feedback (saying) there’s a need for something that’s a little lighter, better for you at night,” he said. “We’re hoping the Subway will attract people to Willie’s.”

Van Atta said he had noticed many students were not aware of the hours change and wants to wait to see the reaction in the coming weeks.

If enough students decide they want the dinner food court hours back, Van Atta said he would ask administrators to reevaluate the decision. He suggested reinstating longer hours at one station as a compromise for miffed students.

“We’re willing to fight the fight as long as students are behind it,” he said.

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Twitter: @allymutnick