Osprey Café to close to make room for new Osprey ‘restaurant’

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By Greg ParlierOsprey Café will close near the end of the Spring 2011 semester to undergo significant renovations for a new, modern and multiple-story facility.

Vince Smyth, director of Auxiliary Services, said the café served the campus well, but it is time for an upgrade.

“Our current café was built in the ‘70s, and food service at universities has changed a lot since then,” Smyth said.

During the 15-month renovations, students will have to purchase their home-style meals elsewhere on campus.

Chartwells Resident District Manager Dave Jordan said this may be awkward for a while, but he is confident the food service provider can make up for the inconvenience with quality.

“We won’t have the same amount of offerings as we do now, but we will upgrade what we are selling so that the students can still get their money’s worth,” Jordan said.

Food Services Relocation

Chartwells will use alternative campus locations for students to get the food the café normally provided.

Breakfast will be served at the Sbarro on campus and will include an omelette station. Smyth said Sbarro’s normal operations should not be affected — the kitchen will close just in time to convert back to Sbarro for lunch.

Lunch and dinner options will be at the Student Union in a fifth venue already set up next to Salsarita’s, Smyth said. He said this is the natural place for the relocation.

The breakfast, lunch and dinner locations will continue to be all-you-can-eat, but unlike the current café, customers will only be allowed through the line once per payment.

In addition to these changes, Chartwells will lower meal plan prices to offset the smaller options and inconvenience of walking across campus for meals, Smyth said.

Chartwells may lose money during this interim period for Osprey Café, Jordan said, and the food service employees are tinkering with different ideas on how to make up for it. One possibility is a retail grill that sells hot dogs and hamburgers near the Green, Jordan said.

Smyth said this is as good of a time as any to renovate the dining hall, considering the amount of alternatives.

“We currently have 13 different dining facilities on campus, which is a great number considering the amount of students,” Smyth said.

Renovations

UNF chose Smith-McCrary Architects, Inc. of Jacksonville in a joint venture with Design Plus of Grand Rapids, Mich., to design the new facility, Smyth said. These two companies previously worked together to design Osprey Fountains. They are working on their design options for the new building and will hold open meetings in March or April for students and faculty to see different plans for the facility and offer feedback, Smyth said.

Early plans for the building double the square footage of the current café, add more seats and provide more food choices. Smyth said one improvement the campus is focusing on is the salad bar, which currently has limited choices due to available space.

Jordan said the changes will also include six different serving spots with different food in the new building.

“It’s really going to be more like a restaurant than a café,” Jordan said.