Ollie Gratzinger | Features Editor
With the start of a new semester here on the Bluff, Duquesne has unveiled a slew of dining delights designed to offer up some variety to on-campus eating. When Hogan’s pizza and burgers start to get a little tiresome, chicken tenders at Incline no longer satisfy and you realize it is neither economical nor remotely healthy to survive on Starbucks Double-Shots alone, Options might have just the thing for you.
Last year, talk began about a Chick-fil-A moving in, and that talk generated a bit of debate among the campus community and beyond. But all opposition aside, the eatery is up and running where there once stood the taco line. Cameron Key, a sophomore journalism and multimedia arts major, is one of its new student employees.
“It’s great so far,” Key said. “Today at the opening, it was really packed, so students are really excited — especially because we accept meals, Flex and Plus.”
Meal swipes are especially convenient, as they’ll allow you to get your chicken fix on the university’s dime rather than your own. But how far can a meal swipe’s $5.50 go?
Far enough, according to Key.
Chick-fil-A’s online menu places 12 chicken nuggets at $4.45, and the 8-piece combo, which includes a medium tea or soft drink and a choice of a medium side, will run you $5.95. After a meal swipe, you’ll be left with less than 50 cents of your own cash (or FLEX) to fork over. It might be more expensive, but judging by the crowds gathering around Options, many students think it’s worth the extra cost.
While a new Chick-fil-A is exciting, it also throws a few f-words into the mix: fast and food. Sure, it might be better for you than a Big Mac, Whopper or Baconator, but in this case, better isn’t necessarily synonymous with good. Of course, chicken nuggets once a week won’t kill you, and everything can be healthy in moderation, but students, such as sophomore education major Caroline Combemale, are realizing that it’s difficult to find on-campus dining options that suit their greener lifestyles.
“I believe that more vegan options would be beneficial. Dining services briefly ran a vegan club, but they posted the wrong times, and, as a result, nobody showed up,” Combemale, a vegan, recalled. “The first session, however, had the accurate time and place, and there was a large turnout. I’d say at least 25 students were there.”
“The school had the opportunity to expand their vegan options, but they chose an unhealthy chain,” Combemale continued. “We have burgers and fries in Towers and at Red Ring. Why do we need another place?”
Along with the Chick-fil-A, a new, somewhat healthier Mexican eatery has opened up to give taco lovers their Tuesday fix. It’s called Cinco Cantina, and it took the place of the chicken-and-fries counter that we knew last year. Rumor has it that Cinco Cantina is a few steps closer to healthy dining than it’s fast-food neighbor.
According to FoodU, an app that displays all on-campus eating options as well as menus and information, Cinco Cantina is, “A contemporary fast casual Mexican concept build that features creative, chef-driven interpretations of delicious Mexican cuisine and specializes in delivering fresh and locally sourced ingredients when in season and exclusively scratch made salsas, dressings and queso.”
They also offer “vegan featured Trigo Latina, which consists of bulgur wheat and lentils tossed in Latin-inspired seasoning,” according to the app’s summary.
The food there looks a little like something you’d expect to get at Chipotle, with brown paper bags and convienent containers for carry-out. The line for Cinco Cantina extended all the way back to the elevators at Options Tuesday morning around lunchtime, and if that’s at all indicative of its popularity, the Bluff’s powers-that-be might’ve finally gotten something right when it comes to food that satisfies.
In addition to the new campus canteens, Duquesne has renovated a classic favorite: the Starbucks in the Union. A popular stop for students on their way to that pesky 8:00 a.m. lecture, the café now boasts new décor that blends modern styles with a rustic look that ties the whole thing together. A wider counter allows for less of a build up at the end of the line, and additional seating invites more students to make the space their own for studying, doing homework or just hanging out.
And at the heart of this new Starbucks rests a table that can seat up to eight with a charging port at the center, making it even easier for students to utilize the environment as both an academic space and a social one.
But for as popular as these new choices and renovations are, some students might worry that Options isn’t living up to its name.
There used to be a deli for sandwiches, a Greek yogurt bar, a Mexican-inspired station, a sushi bar and a chicken-and-fries quick-stop that offered mac and cheese. But now the size of Chick-fil-A and Cinco Cantina has resulted in all other options being taken out or moved, aside from the small freezer containing two or three different sushi trays. A slightly smaller version of the Chobani bar, for example, now resides at Incline. Another can be found in Rockwell’s market.
Regardless, though, students are hopeful that this is at least a step in the right direction. Some might argue that Options’ new choices offer quality over quantity, and no matter how exciting or anticlimactic these new dining delights may seem, there’s no denying the fact that students are embracing the new eats en masse like a breath of fresh air.