Students flock to grand opening of Norris ground floor for a taste of new food


Alison Albelda/Daily Senior Staffer

An image of Norris ground floor. New dining options include The Budlong, Wildcat Deli and Asiana Foodville.

Andres Correa, Reporter

Despite the below-freezing temperature, long lines of students, faculty and staff formed in Norris University Center on Friday to celebrate the official grand opening of the new ground floor.

The new space has been under construction since last summer in partnership between Northwestern Dining and Compass Group, the University’s new food provider. The renovation includes the opening of several local food establishments, new seating arrangements and the introduction of the latest technology.

“Now that the construction is almost finally complete, we want to give everyone a chance to sample the new great menu items, get acquainted with the collaboration spaces and everything that Norris has to offer,” said Georgene Sardis, the marketing director of Compass Group.

First-year Weinberg students Sally Hong and Soo Min Lee spent their time at the event grabbing as many samples as possible before posting all of them on their social media accounts. Despite not knowing what the ground floor looked like before its renovation, the duo said Norris has been a central place where they can get away from the dining hall food and the stressful library.

“I come here to eat when I get sick of the dining hall food, and I just come here to study sometimes too,” said Hong. “It’s a really nice space for collaborations as well.”

One of the new local food establishments is The Budlong, a Chicago-based restaurant chain that features Nashville-style hot chicken. Though best known for its fried chicken, the restaurant will be adding new menu items starting next week, said Ryan Territo, the restaurant’s director of operations. This includes Budlong biscuits, secret menu options and other specials for the student body.

Other new food options include MOD Pizza, which offers customizable pizzas and salads; Asiana Foodville, a pan-Asian cuisine restaurant; and Wildcat Deli, which offers sandwiches with meats supplied by organic provider Applegate.

In addition to the new food restaurants, the University introduced new food products that will be sold at various stores and cafes across campus. One of those products includes Joyböl, a smoothie bowl offered in different flavors –– including strawberry almond quinoa crunch with granola clusters.

“(Joyböl) aligns really nicely with whom we designed this for –– young, busy, aspiring professional,” the company’s co-founder Jon Agay said.

The new renovations have also upgraded the technology on the ground floor. Sadis said the most popular technological addition has been the Rockbot, an application that allows students to request music from their smartphones.

The ground floor has also added several features that make it a collaborative space, such as the new farm tables with outlets. Students can catch up on sports and news through televisions at the booths.

McCormick junior Jack Pieterse said he has mixed feelings about the renovation, even though he now spends most of his time on North Campus and doesn’t visit Norris frequently. He said old Norris reminded him of his first year at NU, where he spent his time browsing in the bookstore and going to meetings in the building.

Nevertheless, McCormick junior Cristabella Wolff said she ultimately approves of the renovations.

“The layout just has more flow to it,” Wolff said. “You can just walk through, and I think they added more seating, which is always nice.”

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