Dining options on the Eastern Kentucky University campus recently have undergone some changes and several more are on the way, including a Starbucks coffee shop.

Minor renovations were made to the Fountain Food Court in the basement of the Powell Building to accommodate the incoming Quizno’s, which opened last week.

The new submarine sandwich restaurant joins Izzy’s, which moved to the center location in the food court, Grill Works, which took the place of Burger King, Chic-fil-a Filet and Bene Pasta and Pizzeria.

“Based on the first three weeks of school, it’s been very well received by the students,” said Larry Puscizna, senior director of dining service for Aramark Higher Education at EKU. “We thought there would be a little negativity in replacing Burger King, but the positive comments have been about 25 to 1.”

Two new mini-kiosks in the Wallace and Combs buildings that offer sandwiches, snacks and beverages also opened within the past week.

The Fresh Food Company, located upstairs in the Powell Building, also will be renovated next summer and there are plans for renovations in the Stratton Building over the Christmas holiday.

Aramark also is in the planning stages of beginning construction soon on an Einstein Bros., a bagel and sandwich restaurant, in the Moore Building. Einstein Bros. should open by late October or early November, Puscizna said.

“We could have the first one on a Kentucky campus,” he said. “We look forward to that.”

Drinkers of coffee, cappuccino and mocha lattes will rejoice with the news that a Starbucks soon will be on campus as well.

“We’re in the stage now where we’re trying to find a location for it,” Puscizna said. “That could happen as early as early as February of next year. Right now, we’re talking that it could very well be a freestanding building. That’s not guaranteed.”

Aramark also recently did renovations of the kindergarten through 12th grade food program at Model Laboratory School.

“For the middle and high school students, instead of your traditional cafeteria line, we put in stations that are somewhat similar to what you’d experience at Fresh Food Company (on EKU’s campus),” Puscizna said. “It’s what we call Real Food on Campus where we try to bring the outside restaurants on campus or at least that environment.”

With EKU since June 1999, Aramark renewed its contract with the university last September for five years with five optional one-year extensions. The new contract became effective July 1.

“We’re very pleased to continue this relationship with Aramark,” said Barry Poynter, associate vice president in EKU’s Office of Financial Affairs, who added that Aramark also plays a role in planning future construction on campus.

“As we bring buildings online like the new Business and Technology Center Phase II, they’re incorporating a warming kitchen in there and some facilities they can use,” he said. “With the new Science Building project, they are already at the table with the architect to make sure we have functionality in that building for food venues.”

To be included early on during facility planning is phenomenal, Puscizna said.

“I’ve been in this business quite a few years, and usually you’re trying to react after the fact when the building is already planned out,” he said.

During the more than eight years Aramark has been with EKU, the company has surveyed the community during the fall and spring semesters to see what changes need to be made in dining on campus.

“We have focus groups where we meet with the students,” Puscizna said. “We have a food advisory committee that meets with representation from all over the university. From that feedback, we decided renovations were needed.”

Renovations and additions are important, Poynter said, because students taste change.

“(Aramark) tracks every bit of the business that goes on every day,” he said. “Burger King was a hot ticket a few years back, but it was waning a little bit.”

As the first Aramark manager on campus, Puscizna said he is one of the few people who can relate to what campus dining was like before and what it is like now.

“This time next year, it’s going to be great,” he said. “I don’t think we can take a backseat to anyone in this state and the surrounding states.”

Bryan Marshall can reached at bmarshall@richmondregister.com or 624-6691.

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