Dining services at the University of Connecticut will be offering traditional Asian food and make-your-own bowls at a new facility titled ‘Earth, Wok and Fire’ in the Student Union, which will be located in Panda Express’ former location, according to Dining Services Director C. Dennis Pierce.
On Wednesday morning, the Board of Trustees voted to move forward with the $700,000 project, which will be operated by Dining Services with construction set to begin at the conclusion of the spring semester.
The new station will be split up into two seperate areas: The right side will serve Panda Express-like prepared foods, while the left side will serve customizable, made-to-order bowls with a variety of meats and vegetables, Pierce said.
“The Student Union had been asking us to try something different, more like an assembly process,” Pierce said. “So a student who wants to get that typical premade selection would go to the right side.”
Pierce said students who want to choose more personalized options will be able to go to the left side, where there will be a large variety of meal options to choose from.
“The left side will have some protein options and then a large variety of vegetables. So you can choose what you’d like and can then pick sauces and seasonings,” Pierce said. “The chef will then use the woks to make the bowls to order.”
Rob Landolphi, the culinary operations manager who has been responsible for creating the menu for the new restaurant, said there will be a variety of options in each category for students to choose from on the left side of the station.
“You have raw beef, pork, chicken, tofu and probably some shrimp to pick from,” Landolphi said. “The employee will then ask about seasoning and vegetables—we will have everything from carrots, green onions, peppers, celery, baby corn, mushrooms and pineapple chunks.”
Pierce said the Student Union committee briefly considered bringing another franchise into the Union similar to Subway and Dunkin’ Donuts, but quickly disregarded the idea.
“It did not make sense to bring in a franchise because a percentage of the money goes off-campus,” Pierce said. “So why do that when we (dining services) can duplicate the same kind of menus and service?”
Taylor Harton is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.