Student surveys prompted the university to replace Quiznos and Pizza Hut with Steak-N-Shake, which opened Monday in the Campus Center, says who?
All on-campus dining is run by Aramark Dining Services, and Bart Herridge, Dean of Student Retention, handles the student side of campus dining. He said the results of student surveys led the university to replace Quiznos and Pizza Hut with either a gourmet burger option or upscale Mexican food.
“When we talk about, ‘What food do I want in the Bean?’ the survey information that keeps coming back over and over again is very much a push toward healthy foods,” Herridge said. “But when you talk about the food court, everybody goes to ‘food court food.'”
Steak-N-Shake has franchises at multiple college campuses, including the University of Texas at San Antonio, which officials looked at as a model. Aramark still employs the workers and operates the store, using Steak-N-Shake products and branding.
Herridge said the university didn’t want to put just another sandwich store in the food court, but wanted something that students might not be able to find anywhere else in Abilene. The next closest Steak-N-Shake location is in Fort Worth.
“And the shakes are a big deal,” Herridge said. “There’s an expectation that we’re going to get some off-campus traffic from this. No idea how much, no idea what that looks like. But we still have people coming to the Bean after church for Sunday lunch.”
The menu features the original burger, the signature steakburger, the single steakburger with cheese, and two hot dog options. Classic shakes include chocolate, vanilla and strawberry and specialty shakes include Butterfinger, chocolate chip cookie dough, Oreo cookies n’ cream, M&M’s, peanut butter cup and Nutella.
Luke Fox, junior music major from Conroe, said he had tried Steak-N-Shake in Houston a few times before so he was excited to have a location on campus. For his first order, he got the signature steak burger with french fries.
“I think I’ll get it like once or twice a week,” Fox said. He lives on-campus as a resident community leader in Edwards Hall.
Jade Rupley, junior computer science major from Colorado Springs, Colorado, tried Steak-N-Shake for the first time Thursday. Her order of a single burger with cheese and fries took about five minutes from the time she ordered, to getting the meal in her hands. As a junior living off-campus, she said she probably will eat there only once every two weeks.
“For a treat, I would probably get a milkshake,” Rupley said. “Right now I have class at 2, so I’m kind of just waiting out here so that I don’t go home.”