Chick-fil-A, Starbucks coffee shop proposed for food court
KEARNEY – After board approval Friday, the 55-year-old Nebraskan Student Union at University of Nebraska at Kearney will be getting a new look along with new dining options for students and the community.
Under plans approved Friday by the University of Nebraska Board of Regents, a proposed multi-phase remodel of the Nebraskan will begin immediately after final design and bid-letting.
The planned Union remodel project will include new retail areas that – under a renegotiated contract with UNK’s food-service provider – include a Chick-fil-A restaurant and fully-licensed Starbucks coffee shop. The project will be paid for from facility reserve funds and vendor investment – not state funds, according to Vice Chancellor for Business and Finance Jon Watts.
The two new restaurants are included in the proposed ground floor remodel that will change the building layout to a more open entrance and adjacent corridors; reconfigure and remodel meeting spaces and dining areas; update interior finishes and add new furniture. The project will also fix HVAC and air exhaust, lighting and sewer issues in the building.
The $6 million renovation will provide space appropriately designed for modern student meeting, retail and lounge needs in addition to office and program needs to oversee student recreation, government, and organization functions and allow better use of student areas 24 hours a day.
The 22,000-square-foot Nebraskan today houses the offices of Multi-Cultural Affairs; Student Engagement; Fraternity and Sorority Life; Student Government; student meeting, cafeteria and food court; the Antelope Bookstore; several retail and food locations and large meeting spaces, including a ballroom. The Office of Multicultural Affairs offices and adjacent areas on the east end of the first floor saw a renovation in 2015-16. The remainder of the first floor will be upgraded to match the design/décor of that first phase.
Discussion about new restaurants for the food court has occurred the last several years among UNK students and student leaders; UNK Business and Finance, which operates the business side of the Union, including meal plans; and Residence and Student Life, who are responsible for overseeing student housing and student services.
A coffee shop that carried Starbucks products has operated in the Union since 2002, but the newly-renovated space will allow a 1,208-square-foot shop, which is the minimum for a full-scale Starbucks. Chick-fil-A would be located in 937 square feet on the southwest main floor. The food retailers in the Union, under contract with Chartwells Dining Services, are available for students to use their flexible meal plan dollars. The restaurants are also open to the public. The other national food chain in the Union currently is Subway, which will remain.
“The Nebraskan Student Union is the heart of our campus, serving the entire UNK community,” Watts said. “This multi-phase remodel will enhance the social and student activities hub of the university, providing programs, services, and spaces that are more fully aligned with current and future needs of students. The proposed remodel will create highly interactive spaces that allow for students and student organizations to interact with each other in more meaningful ways, and the new restaurant choices will enhance the appeal of UNK’s most popular campus destination for students.”
Project design could begin in April with the restaurants ready during the fall semester, with additional construction concluding by early fall 2018.
Writer: Kelly Bartling, assistant vice chancellor for Communications and Community Relations, 308.865.8455, firstname.lastname@example.org