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Sunday, October 24, 2021

New food and efficiency coming to a CoHo near you

Imagine walking into the ASUCD Coffee House and having an array of sushi rolls directly on your right, or moving toward the bakery island overlooking the Quad and ordering a refreshing fruit smoothie.

It’s not just your imagination – it’s the plan, and the plan is on schedule.

The renovated CoHo is scheduled to open the first day of fall quarter 2010, and with it, expanded seating, new food options and electronic menus.

“We’re still going to have a lot of that coffee house character – that’s not going anywhere,” said Darin Schluep, kitchen manager of the CoHo. “It’s not going to become some corporate dining room.”

Coho renovation costs between $8 and $9 million, said Mark Champagne, ASUCD business manager, in an e-mail interview. Funding comes from an $8 per quarter student fee.

Some issues with the old CoHo were a lack of seating and extremely long lines, Schluep said. The new layout aims to address these issues, where there is more spatial separation between the service areas and cash register stands as well as an increase in cash register stands.

“The new CoHo will have more of a flow to it,” said Lauren Woods, a senior political science major and student kitchen manager. “It’s going to be a lot more efficient.”

The old CoHo had a lot of four-person and six-person tables, which was spatially inefficient, Schluep said.

“There would be one guy sitting at a six-person table and would study all day,” Schluep said. “Then no one else would sit at that table.”

Plans are to implement more one and two person seating options, like bar style seating facing the quad and two-person booths.

In the old outdoor patio will house a 40-foot long bakery island called Swirls. It will provide baked goods, drip coffee, espresso drinks and smoothies. In the former bagel and salad area, Ciao will serve up pizza and pasta.

Swirls and Ciao are separate from the larger dining area, the Marketplace, and will be able to stay open during hours that the Marketplace is closed. This separation will allow partial food service during the weekends and special events without having to open everything, Schluep said.

The Marketplace will house Croutons, the salad station; TX MX, the Tex-Mex grill; Cooks, the hot food line; The Fickle Pickle, the deli; and Pho the Love of Sushi, the Vietnamese noodle soup and sushi station.

The CoHo’s new salad concept emphasizes pre-tossed, entrée style salads, although deli style salads will also be available by the ounce. Whole wheat and spinach salad wraps are being discussed, Schluep said.

TX MX is adding a super burrito option that will automatically include sour cream, guacamole and an assortment of vegetables. The normal burritos will be smaller – an effort at promoting a healthier portion, Schluep said.

The hot food line will hold its emphasis on soups, casseroles and entrees. While the old hot food line had special weekly platters, Schluep hopes that cooks will have a different platter every day.

Seven students will be working different sandwich stations at the deli area with two working on bagels. The Fickle Pickle will have the standard CoHo sandwiches as well as wraps and specialty sandwiches.

Grab-and-go drinks and other food items are being cut down, Schluep said. The Marketplace instead will be more entrée focused.

The CoHo, along with ASUCD and Campus Unions, launched a pilot program to start composting post consumer waste in the MU earlier this quarter to start getting students used to the idea of composting.

“We will hopefully be moving to a 100 percent compostable, biodegradable CoHo next year,” Schluep said.

But there are some challenges, he said. Finding compostable straws, coffee lids and pho bowls are difficult.

Schluep estimates that sales are at about 60 percent of what they used to be with this year’s interim-CoHo.

“We expected that, but we chose to be open on a limited basis rather than not be open at all,” he said.

Schluep hopes to have access to the kitchen by Aug. 15 and to the service areas by Sept. 15 for move in and training.

JANELLE BITKER can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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