University Unions has announced that two new cafés will come to the Michigan Union this fall, further expanding the variety of food offerings in the heart of U-M’s central campus.
Au Bon Pain, a café and bakery, will move into the space on the first floor where the University Club now operates. Starbucks also will locate on the first floor in the space traditionally used as a coffee cafe. Remodeling will begin later this summer for the new operations, with anticipated openings later in the fall semester.
“Our selection committee was very impressed with both Au Bon Pain and Starbucks,” said Susan Pile, director of the Michigan Union. “Both are a good fit with the broad range of students and others who visit the Union each day.”
“From a student perspective, the new vendors are a positive change,” said Adam Kleven, chair of the Michigan Union Board of Representatives. “Au Bon Pain wants to ensure student needs are met in terms of food selection and social space; Starbucks is undeniably popular and will increase the number of students who come into the Union.”
Au Bon Pain and Starbucks will complete the refreshed food offerings in the Michigan Union. Remodeling already is underway on the ground floor for food vendors that will include Ahmo’s Mediterranean Grill, Panda Express, Subway, Freshens, U-go’s and Wendy’s. Those restaurants will reopen in late summer.
The Michigan Union location will be Au Bon Pain’s second location in Michigan. The company operates more than 300 cafes worldwide and is located on many college campuses including Duke University, University of Chicago and the University of Maryland.
Au Bon Pain’s marketplace concept offers customers a variety of made-to-order sandwiches, salads, soups and breakfasts. The restaurant also offers a grab-and-go section for quicker service. It will be open the same hours that the Michigan Union is open, 7 a.m.-2 a.m. Monday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 a.m. Sunday. According to Pile, this is a positive change for the Union that will mean providing more food options at different times of day for students and the rest of the campus community.
“What impressed us about Au Bon Pain was the company’s experience on many college campuses, its responsible product sourcing and the ability to share detailed nutritional information for every food item,” Pile said. “That approach fits right in with the values that are important to our community: sustainable practices, a large, varied menu, and easy-to-find nutritional information.”
Pile said Au Bon Pain architects are working closely with university staff in developing a design that ties into the tradition and spirit of the historic Michigan Union. In addition to remodeling the space for the restaurant operation, plans will incorporate a performance area for music and other presentations by student groups and special guests.
The University Club has been operating in the Michigan Union since 1937. In recent years it has been open only for lunch with its popular salad bar. Pile said the U-Club has struggled to capture a wide audience and remain financially viable for the university.
Starbucks is giving the first-floor coffee shop space a makeover before it opens in the fall. The beautiful architectural features of the space, including the windows, arches, and brick walls will be maintained. Pile said Starbucks’ focus on fast service, well-trained baristas, quality ingredients and responsible purchasing were some of the company’s appealing features.
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