By Ally Duncan and Wynn McDonald
Out with the old, and in with the new. Farmer’s Field is bringing a new zest to campus, with prices that will let you keep more of your green and eat some, too.
Farmer’s Field is a new salad bar that replaced Francisco’s Mexican Grill in Café Ogle. The restaurant will hold its grand opening on Sept. 16, offering both standard and build-your-own salad meals for $7 or less, including a drink.
The change was made based on student feedback, which showed a general lack of interest in Francisco’s.
“Students were voting with their feet and their dollars,” Dean of Students Sean McGreevey said. “They were not spending them at Francisco’s.”
When Bellarmine announced its decision, students were excited.
“I thought Francisco’s looked good. It always reminded me of Qdoba,” senior Ryan Meyer said. “I think this is a great idea to help add a healthier food option on campus.”
According to several surveys and polls conducted by WHOM?, students were interested in having healthier food options that help accommodate dietary and health concerns. They were also concerned about the prices of these options, as healthier food items are often viewed as more expensive. At Farmer’s Field, this is not the case.
“We read a lot of the surveys last year about dining services, and we heard that people wanted more variety [and] more vegetarian options,” SGA Food Services Chair Katrina Powell said. “This is one small thing that we could do to help hear the students’ voice.”
Over the summer, there was a great deal of speculation regarding Bellarmine’s food servicing contract with Sodexo, which expired this year. The two sides were unable to come to terms for a new long-term deal, but they did ultimately agree in August on a one-year extension of the previous contract.
Although the extension itself isn’t eye-popping, McGreevey said it was intended simply to buy some more time while a longer-term deal is being negotiated—possibly as soon as early October, pending additional student feedback.
“I think we’ll have a lot to say pretty soon,” he said.
Powell agreed, saying that conversations regarding the contract situation are as active as ever.
“I think that even though we were hoping for something new right now, at least we still have this extension, we’re still talking about it, it’s still in the works,” Powell said. “[It’s] a little disappointing to some people probably, but at least there’s change in the future that we can look forward to.”
The contract situation has only added fuel to long-running rumors about a Chick-fil-A opening on campus.
“Whenever you are going to make a big decision like bringing on a Chick-fil-A or another brand there are dollars associated with that,” McGreevey said. “Chick-fil-A has very high standards, so every Chick-fil-A you go in looks the same and has these red tiles, the same look and feel… they won’t let you just take down the Einstein’s sign, put up the Chick-fil-A sign and start selling Chick-fil-A sandwiches.”
McGreevey said that Bellarmine is open to adding new brands to campus, but restaurants like Chick-fil-A require outside franchising fees, which adds another level of difficulty. Because both Francisco’s and Farmer’s Field are owned by Sodexo, the transition was relatively easy.
“Francisco’s was a Sodexo brand, Farmer’s Field is a Sodexo brand,” McGreevey said. “So, they’re going to put up a new sign, they’re going to get new equipment… they’re going to set up the new menu and then roll. With [them], we aren’t going to have any cost to the institution or to the students.”
The new restaurant debuted with a soft opening this past week, allowing students and staff to try the salads and give feedback before the grand opening. So far, reviews have been largely positive.
“My experience was a great one,” senior Mariah Allison said. “[They] explained everything very well and told me all the ingredients to choose from. It’s a much healthier option that is nutritious and perfect for my new mostly plant-based diet.”