Whoo Deli wows Rice students

Published in FSD Update

Traditionally, Rice University, in Houston, has contracted out retail spaces to local restaurateurs. That includes an Asian restaurant, a Mediterranean grill and a convenience store, all operated by outside entities, according to Executive Chef Johnny Curet. Recently, however, the department made a successful foray into operating its own retail units.

“Our vice president of administration had been wanting us to become more involved with retail, and so we decided to come up with the Whoo Deli,” Curet says.

Whoo Deli, located in the Rice Student Center, is generating as much as $1,000 in revenue per day. The deli sells a variety of customizable sandwiches, along with a number of sides, and offers a rotating list of hot sandwiches of the day.

“We had a deli in our student center that had closed, and that left a gap” Curet says. The name is a play on the Rice University mascot, an owl. Curet’s team also has created a special salt-free blend it calls Owl Spice, which is splashed on the deli’s freshly made potato chips.

Customers who want a made-to-order cold sandwich have the choice of 12 types of bread, everything from 12-grain and marble rye sliced breads to croissants, kaiser rolls, focaccia bread and tortillas for wraps. Protein choices include sliced meats, chicken and tuna salads, marinated grilled vegetables and tofu, and spreads include chipotle, pesto and sriracha mayo, Creole mustard, herb ranch dressing and hummus.

But toppings are the big draw, Curet says. In addition to several cheeses, these range from banana peppers and olives to red cabbage and red onions.

“We really wanted to have a lot of toppings, for customers who use more fresh vegetables on their sandwiches,” Curet says. “We’ve also got some interesting sides, like a cilantro lime slaw that doesn’t rely on a heavy mayo base.”

A daily soup rounds out the list of sides on the menu.

There are three pricing options. Customers can order either a whole sandwich and one side, or a half sandwich and two sides, for $5.95. Or they can order the hot sandwich of the day and one side for $6.50. The current rotating list of hot sandwiches includes California Chicken, Italian Sub, Turkey Gobbler, Vermont Devonshire and Cuban. There is also a grilled margherita sandwich—grilled vegetables, tomatoes and mozzarella cheese—offered every day. A meatball sub and a muffaletta also make an occasional appearance, and several more items are being developed, including a Texas smoked beef, pulled pork or chicken sandwich with a Shiner Bock barbecue sauce.

Curet notes that the deli has been so successful financially that dining services plans on taking over another retail space in June and developing a new concept.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Sodexo has appointed Cathy Desquesses as its chief people officer, the company announced on Friday.

Before joining Sodexo, Desquesses held multiple leadership roles in the human resources department at General Electric, where she worked for 20 years. Most recently, she was the global HR leader for GE Power Gas.

Desquesses will begin her new role on July 1 and will report to Sodexo CEO Denis Machuel. She will replace Juan Pablo Urruticoechea, who is moving into a new position at Sodexo.

Photo courtesy of Sodexo

Managing Your Business
woman in the kitchen alone

The #MeToo movement has turned sexual harassment into the top labor-related regulatory issue for all employers, triggering action from three out of four companies, according to a new survey on workforce concerns.

About two-thirds (66%) of employers rank the issue among their top two employment-related legal worries, even without a change in the pertinent laws and regulations, the canvass found.

What has changed, concluded surveyor Littler Mendelson, one of the nation’s largest labor-focused legal firms, are employee expectations and the social climate.

“No company...

Managing Your Business
Starbucks college campus

Noncommercial dining centers are often filled with their own Starbucks, Burger Kings, Panera Breads and dozens of other nationally recognized brands. Branded concepts, whether corporate brands or self-operated, offer diners familiar names, menu items, and a sense of place. This translates into more money spent and more diner loyalty for foodservice operators.

However, the success of branded concepts vary greatly. There can be significantly different results depending on whether noncommercial operators decide to franchise, lease or develop their own branded concepts. There’s no one-...

Menu Development
pizza oven

Wood-fired ovens take the biggest slice of the pie when it comes to pizza-cooking preference for consumers. Just fewer than half (45%) of consumers say they prefer a pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven compared to other oven cooking methods. Here are the styles of ovens pizza consumers prefer most.

Wood-fired oven 45% Gas oven 13% Electric oven 11% Grilled 4% Coal oven 4% No preference 23%

Source: Technomic 2018 Pizza Consumer Trend Report , powered by Ignite

Photo courtesy of Thinkstock

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code