Lisa’s Cafe replaces sandwich menu with Mexican cuisine


Lisa’s Cafe, 2332 Campus Drive. Rafael Ramos, an NU Dining executive chef, said Lisa’s new menu offers flavorful and healthy options such as tacos, burritos and tortas.

Emily Chaiet, Reporter

Lisa’s Cafe dropped its signature sandwich menu in favor of new Mexican dishes.

After collecting student feedback, Northwestern Dining updated the cafe’s menu options and offerings from its fresh market — the rebranded name of C-stores, said Buzz Doyle, general manager of NU Dining.

“We felt like we were under-serving the north side population with the C-store specifically, and we really wanted to make a splash and give them what they were asking for,” Doyle said.

Rafael Ramos, an executive chef at NU Dining, said he crafted the new menu to include Mexican cuisine because of his roots in Oaxaca, Mexico. Ramos said this menu will offer flavorful and healthy options such as tacos, burritos and tortas.

But for students who miss Lisa’s sandwiches, Ramos said chefs can still make them on request.

He also said it was important for the menu to meet all dietary needs. Ramos created the kimchi jackfruit taco as an option for vegan and vegetarian customers, he said.

“I don’t consider ourselves trend followers; I consider ourselves trendsetters,” Ramos said. “I research my food, I see what’s going on out there, and I put my twist on it and my own style and bring something new. This is an evolving menu.”

Lisa’s former C-store was renovated into a fresh market, where students can buy snacks and fresh produce such as meats, cheeses and eggs. The cafe also has a Coca-Cola Freestyle machine — a touch-screen soda display offering more than 100 choices — and will soon add milkshake and smoothie machines, Doyle said.

All fresh markets also feature food from Evanston restaurant Viet Nom Nom, which is co-owned by Noah Bleicher (Kellogg ’15).

Viet Nom Nom had already been selling food in the Donald P. Jacobs Center, but Doyle said he wanted its food to be available to students all over campus. Products such as pasta salad, Vietnamese salad and spring rolls are brought fresh every day from the restaurant, Doyle said.

“We partnered with them to ramp up what they do,” Doyle said. “We’re tying back with the community. We wanted to really highlight their stuff.”

To make these changes, the dining team took into account student feedback, Doyle said. Last year, they conducted several student focus groups to find out what changes students wanted to see to food on campus.

NU Dining coordinated five different tastings of the new Mexican food on both North and South Campus, Doyle said. He said 99 percent of the students responded that they would like to see the cuisine offered at Lisa’s.

Doyle said students can still provide feedback by using a machine at Lisa’s that collects data on customer satisfaction.

McCormick sophomore Brendan Labadie said he misses Lisa’s sandwiches, but is excited about the new options. Labadie is living on North Campus for a second year and said he will continue to eat at Lisa’s.

“It could be too soon to tell, but so far I like this Lisa’s,” he said. “I’ll probably come here more often now since it seems like they have more stuff.”

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