The Niche fills niche for new UGA campus

Published in FSD Update

The Niche brings a bistro feel to an all-you-can-eat
dining hall.

When the State Board of Regents approved the University of Georgia’s Athens location for a new Health Sciences campus, the food services department was faced with a challenge: how to create a foodservice unit in that location that would be financially viable.

“Health Sciences is two miles away from the main campus, and is a small campus,” notes Michael Floyd, associate vice president for auxiliary services, pointing out that Brown Residence Hall, designed to serve this campus, houses only 200 students.

The trick, he realized, would be to limit hours of operation as much as possible and to try to attract customers from the main campus. His team has managed to do both by opening The Niche, an all-you-can-eat dining hall in Scott Hall that has the look and feel of a café or bistro. 

“I would estimate that 75% of our clientele come from off this campus, either by car or by bus,” says Manager Gregg Hudson.

The Niche has four main stations: The Hearth, which features a brick oven; The Grill; The Deli; and The Market. The Niche is open only for breakfast and lunch.

The Niche has been attracting students in droves from the main campus by offering a cozier dining atmosphere—The Niche has only about 60 seats—and some unique menu items like a carrot and cashew nut coleslaw and a root vegetable shepherd’s pie. Also, Deli customers can customize their sandwiches by using a kiosk ordering system—not found in any other dining hall—that allows them to sit and visit with friends while their sandwiches are prepared. It also helps that architects designed the building with a roundabout that allows university buses to pull right up to the door.

But the big draw, Floyd believes, is the gelato stand.

“This is the only place at the university where we sell gelato, and the word has gotten out,” Floyd says. While not exactly Baskin-Robbins—the menu features 30 varieties of gelato and sorbet on a rotating basis—it offers some interesting flavors, such as Blood Orange Sorbet, Heath Caramel Hazelnut Gelato and Orange Carrot Lemon Sorbet. 

And it’s all you can eat.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Noncommercial foodservice operations and other employers would be spared from costly new overtime pay regulations if 21 states succeed in the legal challenge they jointly filed yesterday.

The lawsuit asks the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas to set aside the rules, which are scheduled to take effect on Dec. 1.

If the court rejects the request, restaurants and other businesses will be required after that date to pay overtime to any salaried employee who works more than 40 hours in a week and earns less than $47,476 on an annual basis.

The...

Industry News & Opinion

The new unpaid-balance policy at Canon-McMillan School District in Pittsburgh is making waves after a former cafeteria worker sounded off about the practice on social media.

Stacy Koltiska said she quit her job with the district after being forced to take hot meals away from students who owed lunch money, CBS News reports .

Under a new policy that was implemented at Canon-McMillan this year, students whose lunch debt exceeds $25 are not allowed to receive a hot lunch. Children in grades K-6 are given a sandwich in its place, and older students receive no lunch. A recent...

Industry News & Opinion

Due to low participation in its lunch program, Talawanda School District in Oxford, Ohio, is raising the price of school meals this year, Patch.com reports .

The cost of school lunches will see a 30-cent increase, half of which is being enacted to cover the district’s budget. The other half is being required by the government to cover the cost of free and reduced-price lunches provided to low-income families. Prior to this year, the district had not raised prices since 2009.

The district’s cafeterias have experienced a decline in student participation since implementing the...

Industry News & Opinion

Six Philadelphia hospitals were honored by the city’s department of public health for healthy food initiatives introduced as part of the local Good Food, Healthy Hospitals program, bizjournals.com reports .

The hospitals each debuted healthy measures to their dining services, such as lowering the cost of water bottles and seltzers, and offering dishes that incorporate local produce. One hospital was also honored for operating its own organic farm.

The facilities that were honored were:

Einstein Medical Center Philadelphia Cancer Treatment Centers of America’s Eastern...

FSD Resources