Taylor University’s new cafe will replace a popular study spot in the Zondervan Library’s galleria and is projected to open in late October. The initial September opening of the new cafe is pushed back due to ongoing construction bids.
“We don’t actually know yet if the contractors will be able to start right away,” Stephen Olson, vice president for finance and chief financial officer, said.
The plan for food offerings is that the Trojan Deli will move from the LaRita Boren Campus Center to Zondy’s along with pre-made sandwiches, wraps and salads.
The coffee options will not be the same as the Jumping Bean — most likely only providing drip coffee and select flavors. There is no confirmation on the brand of coffee that will be provided.
“So it’s not like a coffee house,” Olson said. “That was an original thought we had like a year ago, and we’ve turned away from that.”
The new food option location was prompted by recent renovations of the Hodson Dining Commons and the Boren Student Center that will span the 2023-24 school year.
The Hodson Dining Commons renovation is estimated to last until early December. The Chick-fil-A renovation is set to start soon after the Hodson renovation is completed and will take approximately one to two months, Olson said.
“It’s just our belief that we really need a stronger third food source,” Olson said. “And a coffee house is nice, but it’s not actually a stronger food source.”
The current plan for the student center’s renovation is to remove the Trattoria Station pizza and the Trojan Deli sandwiches and replace both food services with a Freshëns outlet. The outlet will include smoothies, wraps, salads, panini-style sandwiches and other similar items marketed as “fresh casual” dining on the Frëshens website.
“We’ve noticed that the deli is very popular, so the one theory for Zondy’s is to put the deli concept over there,” Olson said. “The other thing we’re thinking about is different kinds of rice bowls and sandwiches and salads.”
The logo, branding and details are in development as well as the number of workers needed daily and hours of operation. Zondy’s will also be managed by AVI.
Additionally, Zondy’s will offer meal swipes for made-to-order food as well as grab-and-go food. The location will provide two upright coolers with sandwiches, salads and more — prepared in advance for convenience. The meal swipes here will be counted similarly to those used at the student center.
There will be a new dining app students can download to keep track of dining dollars and meal swipes. There is no estimated date of release because the app must be tailored to the AVI food vendor.
“I’d hoped it would be done before the semester started,” Olson said. “Hopefully (it will be ready) in the next few weeks.”
In addition to a new dining app, AVI plans to host monthly feedback sessions where students can provide compliments or concerns to dining staff. The first one of these was held on Sept. 6.
There are no current plans to compensate for the study space lost to Zondy’s, but the library staff hopes the new cafe will increase the number of students visiting the library on a daily basis.
“The booths that were in the galleria study space are now outside of the library classroom or in the ‘geek room,’ which is always accessible to students,” Shannon Eaves, Zondervan library director, said.
Eaves had not been included in most of the planning for Zondy’s but remains optimistic about seeing new faces as students try the new cafe.
“If it gets crowded out there and they need to come in, we certainly hope they do,” Eaves said.
One concern the library staff has is the impact of the noise that will be made by construction. In order to finish renovations, the crew will have to jackhammer the floor, which Eaves worries will disrupt the quiet atmosphere of the library.
Although there is some apprehension about the change of scenery brought on by a new dining experience, staff are generally excited about the project.
“I think once we live with it for a little bit, then we can kind of adapt how we need to,” Eaves said. “We just hope people come in and use the library.”