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Local

Starbucks, other dining changes coming to NIU student center

More food options, improved dining flexibility on the menu

The Holmes Student Center at Northern Illinois University Jan. 10, 2019.
The Holmes Student Center at Northern Illinois University Jan. 10, 2019.

DeKALB – Coffee lovers, rejoice: Starbucks is coming to Northern Illinois University, among many other campus additions, such as a bowling alley and convenience stores.

Dan Koenen, executive director of NIU’s campus dining services, said the university decided a few years ago to renovate the ground floor of the Holmes Student Center, 340 Carroll Ave., and that renovations should include additional dining options for the campus community.

“Student, faculty and staff surveys were done on what type of food venues they’d like,” Koenen said Thursday. “Not only was coffee one of the most popular responses, but Starbucks was the No. 1 brand identified on the survey.”

Set to be completed later this year or in spring 2020 at the latest, the ground floor renovations also will include a Huskie Convenience Center, another campus bookstore and the Huskie Den – which will incorporate a bowling alley, a Huskie grill and a stage area. Another nationally known food vendor will be coming in as part of the renovation, but Koenen said he could not reveal the name because plans for that project still are ongoing.

“Details are still being decided,” Koenen said about the dining and recreation project. “But all [venues] will be operated by the university, and we will employ some full-time NIU staff and some students.”

The Holmes Student Center renovation project will be completely funded through NIU’s remaining Build America Bonds, which NIU collected when the Obama administration issued bonds to state agencies as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act after the Great Recession, Koenen said.

A few more dining changes also will be coming to NIU’s business building, Barsema Hall and Stevenson Residential Hall. Koenen said Barsema is getting an Italian bistro and more “grab-and-go” options. Stevenson’s renovations will see a more substantial update.

“We’re renovating an all-you-can-eat location into a retail food court,” Koenen said.

The Stevenson food court will include a regional brand sub sandwich chain, which Koenen could not yet identify, and two self-branded vendors for pizza and grill food. The convenience store at Stevenson will be expanded, too.

The dining additions to the two halls is expected to be completed for the beginning of the 2019-20 school year, Koenen said.

Meal options for students also will be amended to adjust for the growth in convenience store and grab-and-go options, and include flex dollars to spend at the chain locations.

All of this is in an effort to provide the campus community with flexibility when it comes to food and social spaces on campus, Koenen said.

“It’s my hope that we’ll keep people on campus, drive engagement and just make the campus a good place to be,” Koenen said.

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