From the vegan station, the vegetarian foods offered in the Eastway Fresh Food Company, and the various options available to students in the new Design Innovation dining hall, there is no doubt that Kent State University prides itself on the variety of options foods that meet many different types. students.
However, fewer options were available when GRAZERS and Fresco decided to leave the Student Center HUB.
Stacey Lasher, the owner of GRAZERS, said that while she and her team enjoyed serving students, staff and faculty over the years at Kent State, they decided to leave on their own.
“Between the sudden meal plan changes that wIn place a few years ago that meant students had fewer sliding scale dollars to spend with us and the recent pandemic which had a drastic effect on our business we were forced to make the decision to stay in the HUB or to continue to run our downtown restaurant,” Lasher said. “We decided to make the difficult decision of choosing our downtown location over the HUB.”
Lasher also added that GRAZERS tried to make changes to their menu to try and eliminate some of the cost of food, but unfortunately that still wasn’t enough to make ends meet.
“We originally launched GRAZERS because we have dietary restrictions ourselves,” Lasher said. “We wanted to create a restaurant where everyone could walk in and find something to eat, which is why we think it’s so important to have no processed ingredients as well as gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian and overall healthy to offer.”
TJ Ingersoll, the owner of Fresco, said he faced the same financial problems.
Students without eThe money they once had to spend on campus with the old meal plan system along with the extreme loss of business due to the pandemic hastened the decision to shut down their businesses.
“When we returned to the HUB in the fall, we really lost the fun we had,” he said. “There aren’t many students, staff, or faculty on campus this year due to the pandemic, and our downtown business has been impacted as a result as well.”
Both owners mentioned that they have also been struggling with staffing issues at the HUB over the past few years.
“Students already have such crazy uptime with school and other activities,” Ingersoll said. “We had students who could only work a few hours here and there, but not enough to keep our business running as well as we wanted in the HUB. I even had to call my wife at one point and ask her to come to work at the cash register because of the lack of staff.
Students with dietary restrictions are aalso dealing with less options with two vegetarian options gone from the HUB.
Freshman nutrition student Karlee Buck has been a vegan for three years and is impressed with Kent State’s vegan options, but would have liked to eat at Fresco and GRAZERS.
“That was definitely a huge reason why I decided to come to Kent State,” Buck said. “They offer a lot more options than the other colleges I looked at.”
Buck never had the opportunity to eat at GRAZERS while they were in the HUB and only ate at Fresco a few times before deciding to leave.
“When I was living on campus, I grew tired of the vegan options served in the dining halls because they served the same type of food all the time,” she said. “I wish I had more opportunities to eat at these places in the HUB as I would definitely have loved eating there to break up the monotony of the dining options.”
Ashley Blood is a student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected]