Jamba comes to Ratner; Chipotle in talks

With Noodles, Etc. newly in place in Hutch, and Jamba Juice and Red Mango coming soon, the University is setting its sights on Chipotle.

By Harunobu Coryne

Several fast food outlets will set up shop on campus in the coming months, dishing out ramen, yogurt, and 900-calorie chocolate shakes to students weary of Bart Mart cereal bars.

This November, smoothie titan Jamba Juice will join popular frozen yogurt chain Red Mango and Hyde Park fusion restaurant Noodles, Etc. as the latest newcomer to the dining system. According to Director of Operations and Communication for Housing and Dining Services Richard Mason, a deal is also in play to make the U of C home to the first-ever on-campus branch of the burrito bar Chipotle.

“One of our many goals is to increase the diversity of food options on campus,” Mason said. The University approached Jamba Juice after evaluating student feedback that pushed for a smoothie bar in Ratner Athletic Center, where the branch will be located. Aramark, the University’s main food service provider, negotiated the contract with the company.

Talks between Chipotle and Aramark have been ongoing, although a preliminary timetable has yet to be established, Mason said. Unlike Red Mango, which will have a self-service outpost in the Biological Sciences Learning Center, the Chipotle branch would require a full, Chipotle-trained staff of Aramark employees. In addition, special cooking equipment such as range hoods could not be accommodated by most campus buildings.

Compared to national chains Chipotle and Jamba Juice, locally owned Noodles, Etc. caused less fanfare when it opened in Hutchinson Commons at the beginning of the school year. Still, the expansion of Thai-born Pattie Kidwell’s popular 57th Street restaurant makes good on the University’s recent promise to have women- and minority-owned businesses account for at least 25 percent of dining purchases.

Students have reacted enthusiastically to the new additions.

First-year Rachel Starks, who was surprised that Jamba Juice operated outside of California, was glad to hear that her smoothie cravings would soon be satisfied: “I’m very excited to be able to have my Berry Fulfilling Smoothie.”