The University of Memphis and Chartwells have two new restaurants in the University Center for this semester: Create, a made-to-order salad bar, and the barbeque-themed Smoked, and most students are already forming their own opinions of the newest additions to the UofM dinning services.
Robin Stewart, Executive Director of Planning and Assessment, said the two restaurants will bring brand new concepts to the UofM dining services.
"Smoked and Create are two new concepts that replaced two previous restaurants. Each venue offers a unique experience for our guests. Smoked is a barbecue concept that fits the Memphis culture. We serve Memphis style barbecue with special sauces and comforting sides," Stewart said. "So far, the nachos have been a hit. Create is an exhibition-style salad and wrap experience that offers more of a healthy option for our guests, from Chicken Caesar wraps to Opa Hummus Bowls. These new additions offer a robust dining experience by delivering variety and flexibility."
Stewart said the newest concepts will provide more variety and faster service for students, along with several other changes to dinning services.
"TOMs Restaurant received a tremendous upgrade. We recently added new furniture and flooring to enhance the atmosphere. We also made it more convenient for guests to dine with us by offering kiosk ordering for Panda Express, Create, Smoked, and Bowl Life," Stewart said. "Lastly, food trucks are back. Food trucks are parked in front of the Administration building every Tuesday and Wednesday from 11 AM - 1 PM."
Stewarts said the goal of tiger dinning is to enhance the overall student experience.
"We want to ensure that we are serving nutritious food while satisfying our guest's need," Stewart said. "Our ultimate goal is to make our dining spaces a place where the campus community can gather and to continue to enhance the dining experience."
Smoked and Create were announced shortly after Chartwells came on board last spring. Since then, the opening of the two were highly anticipated by students and faculty, possibly due to how crowded the UC became in the fall semester.
Michael Rossi, a senior at the UofM, said he really enjoyed Smoked.
"The pulled pork was perfect. It had the perfect amount of sauce, perfectly juicy and tender," Rossi said. "The pimento mac and cheese was really good as well. Really all of it was very good."
Rossi said the wait time in the UC have improved form the fall semester.
"The lines at Chik-Fila have definitely changed. There's no turning around or anything like that anymore," Rossi said. "They have four lines to match each of the cash registers which is way better than last semester. With these four lines you can have ten to twelve people in front of you and still get your food instantly."
Rossi said from his experience the service at the new restaurants is great.
"They were really thoughtful about what you wanted," Rossi said. "They ask a lot about your order to make sure that they have everything right and they even gave me a free fountain drink."
Rossi said the prices are deterring some students.
"The barbecue place is just too expensive for students, My girlfriend and I were standing in line and people would walk by laughing because of how expensive it was," Rossi said. "Overall though I think the other changes such as the lines ar e very beneficial to students."
Matthew Jones, an ROTC student at the UofM, said he doesn't care for the newest options.
"I tried a brisket that one of my friends gave me and I thought it was okay but definitely not as good as Central. It's not terrible but it's not great," Jones said. "She told me how much it costed and I was immediately cut off because I can get cheaper better barbecue at other places."
Tevin Robertson, a junior at the UofM, said he is not a fan of the new food in the UC.
"From what I've heard not a lot of people are excited about it and I know I'm not," Robertson said. "Overall they're trying to introduce healthier options and that might attract new people if it's as bad as people say then they won't stay for very long."
Some students have also criticized the service for the length of the lines formed and the time it takes to get food at certain points of the day.
"The lines are just awful still even though they split it up into four," Robertson said. "Even with the changes it still takes a really long time to get food."