NORMAL — With much fanfare and an impromptu drumbeat, Illinois State University announced Thursday that Qdoba Mexican Eats, Starbucks and a takeout spot called The Landing will be among the new dining choices at Bone Student Center.
That leaves two more restaurants to be announced as part of the ongoing revitalization project at the Bone Student Center.
McAlister’s Deli is the student center’s only current dining option that will remain after the project is complete.
Campus officials had talked about Starbucks and The Landing during a “helmet” tour of the project last month. But this was the first public mention of Qdoba. During the tour, the officials just said there would be a Tex-Mex restaurant.
Of the two remaining venues to be named, one will serve Asian cuisine and the other will be an American grill with burgers, chicken, fries and shakes, according to Bill Legett, director of event management, catering and hospitality of the UIS.
Starbucks and The Landing will be located on the east end of the first floor near McAlister. There will be an entrance to Starbucks from an exterior courtyard and a staircase from the courtyard to Milner Plaza.
Qdoba will be on the second floor along with the other two restaurants which have yet to be officially named. Legett described them as “fast casual”.
He said the restaurant’s announcement was another milestone in the $33 million revitalization project that began just over a year ago. It includes a “Grand Staircase” leading from the parking lot on the north side to Milner Plaza, a three-story addition, and a major renovation of the Brown Ballroom and the center’s west entrance.
Qdoba and Starbucks are scheduled to open in mid-March after students return from spring break, and The Landing will open in the summer.
“Things are going to move very, very quickly, especially in the east,” Legett said.
The Brown Ballroom has a tighter schedule: Officials want it done in time for ISU Founders Day on Feb. 21.
A party atmosphere reigned before the announcement, with silver balloons spelling out “Big Reveal” and music courtesy of WZND, the student radio station. Even Reggie Redbird was on hand – or wing.
Levester “LJ” Johnson, vice president of student affairs, asked, “Can we have a little generic drum roll? before three student leaders removed the black fabrics covering each of the new restaurant logos.
“I’ll drink to that,” Johnson said, raising his Starbucks mug when that sign was unveiled. But the biggest cheer from the students thronging the west end of the second-floor hall was for Qdoba.
Sophomore Skylar Gustafson, a criminal justice major from Rockford, said “I was a little disappointed” and had hoped for more than fast food.
But Summer Rice, a molecular and cellular biology student from Chicago, said, “I’m thrilled to have Starbucks in the student center, so I don’t have to go all the way to the rec center.”
The Starbucks at the Student Fitness Center is small. The one in the student center will be larger, with indoor and outdoor seating.
As part of the “big reveal,” there were free food samples and t-shirt giveaways.
Contact Lenore Sobota at (309) 820-3240. Follow her on Twitter: @Pg_Sobota