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Another major new retail project involved the Hub by Angie Witt, a former railway waiting room for the train connection to the town of Ames and located in the heart of the campus, it traditionally offered only vending options with a small window for commissary foods. Today, the vending remains, but Levandowski also added foodservice: the Hub Grill & Cafe offering hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups and desserts, plus the first branded Caribou Coffee outlet in Ames (and only the second on a college campus at the time).
The renovated Hub/Caribou debuted in Spring 2008 and now generates nearly $1.35 million in combined sales (compared to under $300,000 in the vending-only days). Together with the Bookends Café in the adjacent Parks Library, this area of the campus—rich in commuter traffic as it is near most of the academic buildings—drives over $2 million in retail sales.
The most recent major new addition to the retail mix is the renovated Hawthorn Market & Café by Tatiana Twedt in the Frederiksen Court Community Center, an apartment complex located slightly distant from the main campus and designed to function as a more or less self-contained community. Unveiled last summer, the renovated Hawthorn added ordering kiosks outside its servery to facilitate flow-through, minimize congestion and add convenience. The upgraded menu includes a new pizza concept, toasted subs, Starbucks branded drinks and a once-thru-the-line full service meal option at dinner. All the changes have added up to a nearly 50% increase in sales, to over $1.7 million.
Adding to the high-powered retail mix on the ISU campus are two recently re-opened c-stores serving largely residential populations: the South Side Market and the newly renovated East Side Market. Featuring a Godfather’s Express Pizza outlet and made-to-order deli, East Side Market has helped double retail sales in the MWL Commons, generating over $1.6 million in the just completed academic year. In fact, since 2007, overall c-store sales at ISU have doubled to over $6 million.
The most recent additions are an expanded café in the Gerdin Business Building, and Froots, a smoothie concept, in the newly renovated State Gym recreation center led by Dan Fincham.
A Bright Future
More changes and additions are on the horizon. ISU's enrollment is growing—it is expected to hit 31,000 this fall, up from 28,000 a year ago, and the president set goals for 34,000 in the next two years. That means more opportunities—and need—for dining outlets. One, the Global Café, is scheduled to open in the 2013-14 school year in the College of Agriculture.
“It will be like what you see in some airports, where the coolers of sandwiches, salads and beverages and racks of dry goods offerings are lined up against the wall with a cashier at the end,” Levandowski explains.
In the meantime, she is looking to bridge the gap with what is currently the trendiest of food delivery systems. “Because the crunch will come before we can get all these places we’re planning built, I’m looking at using food trucks because they would give us flexibility,” Levandowski says. The exact number is yet to be determined, as is whether they will be purchased outright or leased.