To further differentiate its offerings, Indiana University (IU), in Bloomington, is adding the first campus units of Wisconsin-founded regional commercial brand, Erbert & Gerbert’s Bistro, to its roster of dining options this fall. The sandwich and soup concept will replace three units of the campus’s deli brand, Stacks.
“Our campus is divided into neighborhoods,” explains Sandra Fowler, director of residential dining services. “We have the Northwest neighborhood, the Central neighborhood and the Southeast neighborhood and there will be an Erbert & Gerbert’s Bistro in each neighborhood.”
Just like a standard street-side outlet, each unit will offer a variety of sandwiches and soups—named for history- and science-based story characters that the company’s co-founders grew up with. Examples include the “Girf” (turkey and ham), the “Geeter,” (seafood and bacon) and “Narmer” (turkey and avocado). The subs are served along with unusual soup options such as Smoked Chicken & Sweet Potato and Italian Sausage Tortellini. “It’s just something new and different,” Fowler says. “Students are always looking [for something new and] that gets their attention.”
How did a Wisconsin brand come to Indiana? “Our assistant director and the director of residence life, they’re from Wisconsin, so they were familiar with Erbert and Gerbert’s,” Fowler explains. After meeting with brand representatives at an industry conference in early 2014, residence life administrators invited Erbert & Gerbert’s Bistro to campus to share menu samples with students, faculty and staff and to gain feedback. “We work closely with our students on campus when we’re going to bring in a new concept or when we’re going to change even recipes sometimes. We use them to taste test,” Fowler explains.
Ink was still drying on the agreements as renovations began this summer. But because the spaces were previously used for deli service, “there wasn’t a lot that we had to purchase, other than the storefront to make sure it’s identified as Erbert & Gerbert’s Bistro,” Fowler says.
The IU dining services department will oversee all units, and management training concluded at the end of July at the brand’s flagship unit in Wisconsin. All three units are scheduled to open in August, ahead of the fall semester.