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Inside Iowa State, a newspaper for faculty and staff, is published by the Office of University Relations.

Nov. 16, 2007

Indoor seating is part of revised Hub plans

by Anne Krapfl

As major remodeling at the Hub continues this fall, ISU Dining has announced two additions to its plans: a Caribou Coffee franchise and another 1,500 square feet to provide more indoor seating.

ISU Dining signed a contract with Minneapolis-based Caribou Coffee Company Inc. the last week of October. Dining director Nancy Levandowski said she is excited to have Caribou on board.

"The impact of having a well-branded name that's focused on many of the same sustainability goals as ISU Dining and the ISU community is phenomenal," Levandowski said. "I am looking forward to a great partnership."

The Hub location will be the first Caribou Coffee in Ames. There are four retail stores in the Des Moines metro area. The Hub will be Caribou's second full franchise on a college campus. The first opened at Kansas State earlier this year.

Last winter, ISU Dining pursued a franchise with Starbucks Coffee for the Hub. Those negotiations ended without an agreement, and during the summer Levandowski began to consider the proposal from Caribou Coffee.

At the Hub

Levandowski said the full Caribou food and beverage menu will be offered at the Hub, including coffee and non-coffee drinks, pre-packaged sandwiches, pastries and desserts.

The addition of Caribou dictates some of the new decor in the Hub, including a stone fireplace along the south wall, some artwork and soft, comfortable seating.

Caribou Coffee will be in the southwest corner of the Hub. A half dozen ISU Dining vending machines will remain in the southeast corner. "It's our strongest vending space on campus," Levandowski noted.

The Hub Grill and Café (including kitchen and food storage areas) will occupy what currently is the north part of the building. An addition on the north end of the Hub, toward Parks Library, will provide more space for indoor seating. The remodeled Hub will seat 108 people inside.

"All our customer surveys said there isn't enough indoor seats -- and we agree with that," Levandowski said. "This is the right thing to do."

The Hub should reopen in April.

Part of the funding for the building addition will come from the cash incentive that is part of ISU Dining's new bottled beverages contract with Coca-Cola ($80,000 annually), and from Levandowski's decision to shelve plans to replace the vending environment in the bus stop building in the commuter lots at Iowa State Center with a staffed café (approximately $200,000).

"I didn't see the financial viability of that concept," Levandowski said. The proposed "Cyclone Alley" café was part of the ISU Dining master plan she inherited when she arrived on campus last fall.

Neighborhood competition

When it opens, the Hub Grill and Café will feature grilled favorites (hamburgers, chicken breasts), made-to-order sandwiches, soups and some pre-packaged salads and sandwiches.

The grill/café and the Caribou counter will complement each other, Levandowski predicted. The more apparent competition may come between Caribou Coffee and ISU Dining's Bookends Café in Parks Library. Each features a branded coffee line, and their food menus will be similar, but not the same.

"With their feet, faculty, staff and students will tell us what they like," Levandowski said.

She thinks both locations will stay busy, and said it might be a good thing to relieve some of the demand on the library café, where lines of 10 to 15 people are common.

Bookends Café has exceeded its revenue projections since it opened, Levandowski said. And since the closing of the Hub in August for the remodel, sales are more than four times what had been projected for Bookends, she said.


"All our customer surveys said there isn't enough indoor seats -- and we agree with that. This is the right thing to do."

Nancy Levandowski