In the lead-up to the renovation of the Hildegarde and J. Myer Schine Student Center, campus community members shared their hopes for what the space could become. The reimagined Schine dining experience was a frequent refrain: What would the new food court look like? What new dining options would be introduced?
Over the past year, staff from the Division of Business, Finance and Administrative Services —which includes the University Food Services team—sought a mix of local and national dining concepts to fulfill the desires of students and the broader campus community.
Dunkin’, a long-time Schine Center favorite, returns to the building, now in a stand-alone location off of the building’s central atrium. The renovated food court includes Panda Express, a casual Chinese restaurant with over 2,200 locations worldwide, and CoreLife Eatery, a fast-growing chain focused on nutritious greens and grains. The Halal Shack, an Albany-based franchise featuring Mediterranean and Middle Eastern favorites, is another new dining option.
“We listened to the feedback from our community, and we are excited to welcome these new franchises to campus,” says Kris Klinger, associate vice president of auxiliary services. “We want to provide a wide variety of options, so you’ll see baked goods and comfort food, along with more healthy, fresh choices.”
Highlighting Local Businesses
Two local favorites provide some sweet new options to the University community. Biscotti Café, an Italian bakery in Syracuse’s Northside neighborhood that is famous for its cakes and Italian pastries, now has a kiosk in the food court. Chocolate Pizza Company, a Marcellus-based gourmet chocolate manufacturer owned by Ryan Novak ’11, offers freshly made confections—like its famous peanut butter wings (a blend of chips, peanut butter and chocolate)—to meet the needs of any sweet tooth.
The Tomato Wheel, Food Services’ pizza concept introduced on campus in fall 2018, returns to the food court with handmade pizza wheels, twists, garlic knots and pizza by the slice, including vegan and gluten friendly options.
The Schine Center’s Food Services staff, led by director Sue Bracy, has been hard at work learning how to prepare the food offered by the new franchises. Her team visited the Panda Express in nearby Fort Drum and then traveled to observe staff at a Halal Shack in Albany. Cooks and counter service staff have been training with staff from these establishments to prepare for the building’s reopening.
Food Services staff are being relocated to Schine from the aging Kimmel Food Court, which closed at the end of the fall semester. All members of the staff at Kimmel have transitioned to other positions on campus. The city of Syracuse remains under public health guidance that mandates in-person dining to conclude at 10 p.m. However, in looking toward the future, Schine will eventually become the late-night campus dining destination once pandemic-related restrictions are lifted.
Bracy notes that while some long-time Schine favorites have moved next door to food.com in the Newhouse complex, new options, such as Halal Shack’s loaded fries, Tomato Wheel’s Buffalo chicken twists, and Biscotti’s gourmet pastries will satisfy students’ late-night cravings.
An Improved Student Experience
In addition to the new food offerings, students will find the entire dining area transformed. New seating options include several “booth boxes” surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows on the perimeter of the dining area, along with high-top tables, counter-height seating with stools, and a variety of soft seating throughout the building.
“The goal of the renovation was to create a true student union,” says Amir Rahnamay-Azar, chief financial officer and senior vice president for business, finance and administrative services. “This is a place for students to eat, gather and study, and we feel the new Schine Center will upgrade the student experience in every way.”