Northwestern Dining, ASG to bring local restaurants to campus

Mark Ficken , Reporter

Northwestern Dining and Associated Student Government sent out an online survey at the beginning of the quarter in an effort to gauge student interest in bringing local restaurants to campus as part of a collaborative initiative to encourage students to use off-campus dining options.

The survey asked students how much they would be willing to pay, whether they would attend the event and which restaurants they would like to see. Judging from the survey results, NU Dining worked out the logistics of hosting different restaurants on campus for the remainder of the quarter.

Prior to analyzing the results of the survey, NU Dining and ASG arranged to bring Naf Naf Grill to campus on Tuesday.

As part of NU Dining’s Windy City Chefs program, workers from Naf Naf Grill will be selling menu items in Norris University Center and in Allison’s dining hall. The Windy City Chefs program started last spring as a way to bring local restaurants onto campus.

Jason Sophian, marketing manager at Sodexo, said he hopes bringing local restaurants to campus will help point out the quality of nearby eateries.

“There’s a plethora of amazing establishments, and we’re definitely looking to highlight the fact that we’re in such a hotbed of culinary activity,” he said.

Kevin Harris, ASG vice president of community relations, said that the partnership was only a matter of time.

“We have a longstanding relationship with them, and we always enjoy partnership with them,” he said, “I think in general both of us are trying to help the student body.”

Harris added that he hopes the program brings students together and helps them choose to eat off-campus more often, noting the survey will help to bring restaurants to campus with widespread student interest.

“I think food is something that students always bond over.” he said “I think there are a lot of popular restaurants in town. Big Bite Night has been popular in the past, and we wanted to continue with something similar.”

Weinberg freshman Allison Kitain said she is excited for Naf Naf to come to campus and plans to schedule her day around the event.

“I think we could use a little bit more Evanston eateries and restaurants with more diverse foods on campus,” she said.

Sophian said bringing restaurants also allows NU Dining to adapt their menus to fit more students’ tastes. He said their chefs observe the restaurant’s techniques and try to adapt them for the dining halls.

Both ASG and NU Dining want to expand the program in the future, and Sophian said he hopes to squeeze one more restaurant visit in before the end of the quarter.

Harris said he also hopes these events will help the businesses financially.

“Students are an important customer segment for them,” he said. “We want them to be successful. We want students to do business at their establishments … whether it’s helping them make a couple extra bucks or giving them PR or providing some convenient food for students.”

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