New dining options stir up mixed reactions

Two new dining options on campus this fall come with a side of students’ mixed emotions. Food Services now offers Au Bon Pain and Yan Can Cook as dining alternatives for students.

Au Bon Pain, located in the front lobby of the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library, is comparable to Panera Bread Company. Au Bon Pain dishes up an assortment of foods. The menu includes fresh-baked breads and pastries, sandwiches, specialty coffees, and smoothies. Yan Can Cook, located on the ground floor of the Roaden University Center, features cashew chicken, Mongolian beef, pad Thai with shrimp and vegetarian Kung pao

Sam Holm, Director of Dining Services, suggests that Au Bon Pain is primarily for the use of commuter students.

“We did not feel that there’s a good commuter hangout,” Holm said.

Some commuter students complain, however, that Au Bon Pain is overpriced.

“As a commuter, I don’t pay for a meal plan,” Katie Herman, senior political science major said. “I can eat off campus for much cheaper than I can at Au Bon Pain.”

Holm argues that students are paying for the quality of the food, the convenience and the atmosphere.

“The breads are baked fresh every day. The meats are sliced every day. Everything is very fresh that comes out of there,” Holm said. “One thing we all wanted was a fresh quality place.”

Likewise, some students who use a meal plan everyday on campus complain that they are only allowed to use their “flex dollars” at Au Bon Pain.

“We felt it was best to still allow them to use their meal plan, but we didn’t want to open it up fully because it may push out the commuters,” Holm said.                 

There was much deliberation when deciding on a new restaurant to be added to the library renovation plans. Because there is not a proper ventilation hood in the library, the choices were limited.  Food Services wanted to provide the students with a place they could eat at throughout the entire day.

“We wanted something students could get in the morning and in the afternoon,” Holm said.  “As we were looking at all the food concepts available, we kept coming back to Au Bon Pain.”

Food Services took a different approach when selecting what to place on the ground floor of the University Center.

“We do surveys twice a year for the students’ satisfaction, and on there we put what they’d like to see down there,” Holm said.  “Asian is always ranked high. We thought it was a natural choice to bring that one in next.”

Holm explained that the location of Yan Can Cook is designed so that restaurants can be easily added and taken away. Holm expects Yan Can Cook to be replaced next year, but he also expects the Asian cuisine to be popular among students throughout the current school year.

“Right now, Yan is exceeding on a daily basis what anything else has done down there,” Holm said.  “It’s very successful based on the number of students and the sales that are coming through. It’s starting out very strong.”

Holm added that there is a committee students may join to help choose Yan Can Cook’s replacement for next year. The committee, which is currently in the process of being formed, should be completed within the next month. For more information, contact Sam Holm at