New Dining Franchises Find Their Way to YSU

The original chicken sandwich has found a home on Youngstown State University’s campus.

YSU’s own Chick-Fil-A campus location held its grand opening Aug. 20 at 9:30 a.m., marking the newest addition to the campus dining options and the beginning of a new school year.

“We’re excited to be here,” said Steve Plunkett, senior management consultant at Chick-Fil-A.

The new Chick-Fil-A is located in the Kilcawley Center; it replaced the former cafeteria-style restaurant, Pete’s Place.

Pete’s Place garnered a dedicated clientele among on-campus students. It was an advantageous dining option for campus residents with a meal plan, but was rarely visited by commuting students.

“It didn’t perform as well as you might think,” Matt Novotny, executive director of student services, said. “Residents knew well of it, but the common students did not.”

Students and faculty lined up eagerly at the prospect of trying the campus’ newest dining option. At times the line stretched through the restaurant and out the door.

Last year YSU transitioned their food service provider from their long-term partner Sodexo to Chartwells. The newly founded partnership was made on July 1, 2013.

“Chartwells submitted a proposal,” Novotny said. “Chick-Fil-A was a part of their proposal to come in in year two.”

Despite the controversies surrounding it over the past couple of years, according to surveys administered by Chartwells’ request for proposal program, Chick-Fil-A was identified as a popular restaurant in the Youngstown area.

“That is something that the students spoke loud and clear about,” Novotny said. “Of all the franchises, they would like to see a Chick-Fil-A here.”

The dining room in Chick-Fil-A is essentially the same as when it was Pete’s Place. Where the serving area once was has now been replaced by the familiar queuing system of fast food restaurants and the counter from which Chick-Fil-A employees serve. Tables and booths in the dining area have remained the same.

The second most recent addition to the campus dining services is a Starbucks location in Maag Library, replacing Jazzman’s Café on the fourth floor.

Another change happened over the summer, when YSU partnered with Pepsi as its refreshment provider. Vending machines and meal providers located on campus will now be carrying Pepsi products.

Chick-Fil-A is open Monday to Thursday 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Starbucks is open Monday to Friday 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.