Wayne State University will have a new look this fall with the debut of several retail dining locations, greater flexibility with campus catering and a renovated Chatsworth Suites.
Students, faculty and staff returning to Wayne State University’s campus will notice these and several other improvements to their dining, retail and housing experience.
During a recent virtual Wayne State Board of Governors meeting, which saw the board unanimously approve dining and housing rates for fiscal year 2021-22, Tim Michael, associate vice president for student auxiliary services and chief housing officer, laid out the improvements that the campus community can come to expect from Housing and Residential Life.
“We had reenvisioned the entire dining program going into fall 2020, but the pandemic interfered with our ability to fully implement all of those changes,” Michael said. “It was a very iterative process, with much student input. We also worked with our partner, Aramark, to reshape the dining program.”
In July 2020, a new vision for campus dining emerged with dozens of changes in all three areas of campus dining — retail, residential and catering — requested by students and patrons. Many of the changes planned for fall 2020 were delayed by the pandemic’s impacts and will be rolled out beginning in fall 2021. Highlights include new retail dining locations to meet assessed campus demand that will:
- Replace Freshii on Gullen Mall with a Sushi Kabar.
- Replace Wingstop in the Student Center with Tenders Love and Chicken (TLC).
- Close Einstein Bros. Bagels on Anthony Wayne Drive and expand seating for the adjoining Starbucks.
- Add a new food service concept in State Hall as part of a future renovation currently being planned.
Also opening this fall are 7-Eleven and Uncle Joe’s Chicken Fingers, complementing existing campus retail along Anthony Wayne Drive that includes Subway, Dunkin’, Starbucks, Jimmy John’s, Beyond Juicery + Eatery, Albasha Café and 1000 Degrees Pizza. TLC will join Panda Express, Taco Bell, Starbucks, Quickly Boba and Midtown Market in the Student Center.
In addition, the WSU Bookstore Café — which was expanded immediately before the pandemic began in March 2020 — continues to be a popular spot on Warren Avenue to dine and study. Students can reserve a personal shopping time or a study table in the bookstore by visiting wayne.bncollege.com and clicking on the “Shopping Appointments Now Available” icon on the homepage.
As for residential dining, Michael said, the university addressed student demand for more flexibility during the pandemic by converting Warrior Dollars — the declining balance portion of campus meal plans — to OneCard Dollars, the declining balance account available on campus ID cards.
“We have an off-campus network of vendors that participate in our OneCard Dollars program, so not only can students use the OneCard on campus for purchases, but they can use it in the off-campus network,” Michael said. “Adding OneCard Dollars to meal plans provided students more choice and was a really popular solution this year, such that we have agreed to make that change permanent.”
Additionally, Family Table-served dinners will be introduced for groups of students, which will also help to create special opportunities for the new First Year Residential Experience (FYRE) community to dine together. FYRE will bring together support systems from across campus to help first-year residents connect, build strong relationships with campus resources and successfully launch their WSU academic careers. The recently completed $30 million renovation of Chatsworth Apartments, built in 1928, will reopen in August 2021 as Chatsworth Suites as the home for FYRE.
WSU Dining Services has also partnered with the W Food Pantry to create the Warrior Meal Share Program for meal plan holders to assist other students in need. In its first year during 2020-21, more than 45% of meal plan holders donated at least one meal for use by another student.
For faculty and staff looking to cater meals, Michael said the university will add more than a dozen preapproved caterers in addition to WSU Catering, providing more variety while preserving campus facilities and assuring food safety. In addition, there will no longer be a campus requirement to use WSU Catering only for events under $1,000, and the School of Medicine and Mike Ilitch School of Business will be able to use any approved caterer for their events due to their location off the main campus.
Dining has also expanded its physical footprint at the Towers Café with the recent addition of a 5,500-square-foot dining room into the adjacent courtyard. This renovation adds more than 300 seats to accommodate a growing number of annual meal plan users.
“We think our dining and housing programs continue to offer great value for our students,” Michael said. “Philosophically, as well as financially, the dining program is built around creating dining environments for new students as well as the housing environment to help them with their transition to college.”