As the result of a student survey, university opens a full-service Taco Bell menu; also opens the state’s first Aramark P.O.D. Market
By TIERRA SMITH
Grambling State University Media Bureau
President and Mrs. Pogue are first in line to enjoy
the food available at the new Taco Bell in the food court.
GRAMBLING, LA -The Tiger Express food court was packed with students as Grambling State University President Frank G. Pogue and his wife, Dorothy, stood at the Taco Bell counter ordering tacos as scores of students stood behind them.
Students made it clear last semester that they wanted this fast food option, and Tuesday’s grand opening was clear evidence. “Taco Bell will be a major attraction for the food services at Grambling State University,” said Pogue.
“This was a very big step,” confirmed LaResha Taylor, 20, a junior social work major from Houston. “Taco Bell is maybe one of the best moves yet.”
Taco Bell opens restaurants across the country, and there are plenty of fast food options in the Grambling-Ruston area. But GSU students fought for this on-campus option – and won. A student survey was provided and Taco Bell came out on top.
In addition to Taco Bell, students were swarming Aramark’s P.O.D. Market, a new specialty convenience store offering fresh fruit, fresh smoothies, special coffees, grocery store-type products and black beauty products. There are a number of these stores on campuses across the nation, but this is the only full-service P.O.D. on any Louisiana campus.
The Pogues were the first in line at Taco Bell, then there were some of the president’s executive team. The student line stretched halfway across the Tiger Express food court floor as students anxiously waited for a turn to order.
At a general assembly in the T.H. Harris Auditorium a little earlier, students cheered loudly when it was announced that the official grand opening would be held in a matter of minutes.
“Students were not satisfied with the overall options in Tiger Express,” said Jordan Harvey, the Student Government Association president. He applauded the university’s decision to work with he and other SGA representatives to make this desire a reality.
University Director of Food Services Eddie Rushing said when he arrived in February it was obvious that the right thing to do was to work to bring Taco Bell to the campus. The restaurant replaces Topio’s Pizza, which offered combinations of pasta and pizza.
“Students said Topio’s was the lesser option they preferred,” said Carday Marshall, manager of food services.
Rushing said the GSU Taco Bell will have a full menu just like the one in Ruston with the same prices whereas other campuses have Taco Bell Express operations with an express, or limited, menu. He said they opted for a full-service menu because Aramark thinks GSU students will appreciate it.
“This gives more options to the students,” said Rushing. “They get the full Taco Bell experience.”
Rushing projects revenue of about $300,000 annually at the Taco Bell and about $210,000 weekly at the market.
The grand opening was a celebratory event. Six students had the chance to win a limited edition Bayou Classic cooler in the taco-eating contestants. Popular student deejays, the DJ Twins, entertained students and faculty with popular music mixes as people enjoyed lunch and browsed the new additions. Two roommates and softball teammates enjoyed the activities and options, especially since neither has a car. The food court is walking distance from their dorm.
“It’s very convenient,” said Alexus Brown, 18, a freshman education major from Beaumont, Tex. “The food was really good. The line was long, but it was definitely worth the wait.”
“I love Taco Bell,” added Aayilah Lowe, 18, a freshman kinesiology major from Hitchcock, Tex. “I mean really, who doesn’t love Taco Bell.”
Students weren’t the only ones enjoyed the afternoon.
“It brings more variety to Tiger Express,” said Joseph Price, the head basketball coach.
“I am not a big taco eater, but these are good,” said Nettie Daniels, associate vice president of planning and institution research planning, as she enjoyed a Nacho Cheese Loco Taco with other members of the president’s executive council. “These tacos will bring me back again.”
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