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November 20, 2007
Most college campuses probably don't have fresh, homemade sushi made to order for students, staff and faculty every day. Considering that Reno is considered by many locals to have a quality sushi scene, it's only fitting for the University to follow suit.
With the opening Nov. 15 of the new Joe Crowley Student Union and all its forthcoming food attractions, the Overlook food court in the Jot Travis Building on the south end of the campus is poised to provide an even wider selection of food options and venues.
While the status of the Wolf Perk coffeehouse's new location is undetermined (the venue at Jot Travis closed in early November), the Overlook's new fresh sushi option is now available.
Russ Meyer, University associate director of housing operations and dining services, says Food Service will provide sushi in a different way compared to the packaged sushi currently provided by the local Aloha Sushi company. The sushi will not be served as in most popular sit-down bars around town; it will be prepared by food service staff workers daily.
Meyer said customers can walk up and order sushi, and request face-to-face service for a customized plate. While most of the sushi will still be served in packages, the in-house production process will help to make things fresher and cut down on operation costs as well.
Perhaps the biggest attraction with the new food line is the wider selection of sushi compared to what has been provided in the past. Additionally, food service workers will make the selections from scratch. Each day all the raw materials will be shipped, unpackaged, and then be prepared and presented by the staff.
Meyer hopes the new production process will ultimately attract students, staff and faculty and present a unique facet of on-campus dining options. Mandalay Express, one of the Overlook's food vendors, has also hired a sushi chef from New York to come in and train personnel on proper sushi preparation.
In 2004, Meyer conducted a survey of campus dining and found that on-campus food services serve about 25 percent of the student population daily.
"We know that there are more people on campus that we're not serving," Meyer said. "We still think that there are a lot of people at this (southern) end of campus who are looking for something to eat."
The status of the Wolf Perk as well as the Manzanita Lake Room, which is downstairs from the Overlook, will be determined soon. Meyer's initial impressions were that the Manzanita Lake Room (formerly The Cellar) would be converted into the coffeehouse's new location. Another possibility is using the space for the new Honors Program offices.
Meyer says he is still constantly wrestling with the question, "What can we do to make things fresh?" as he views the success and failure of campus dining options as a whole. Yet, there is one thing about campus dining that will probably remain constant in years to come—venues and tastes may change, but people at the University will always remain hungry.