Joya Pavia, Features Editor
Students and faculty who have enjoyed eating at the Pioneer Café returned from break to a surprise.
Subway was replaced with Tres Habaneros, a made-to-order Mexican restaurant owned and operated by Utica College’s dining services provider Sodexo USA. The new eatery opened to students on Jan. 15 and offers a selection of tacos, burritos, quesadillas, empanadas, rice bowls, enchiladas and nachos.
While students may be disappointed, according to General Manager of Food Services Damian Boehlert, it was time for a change. Utica College is trying to use the location as a trendy food spot at the college.
“We reviewed our student surveys,” Boehlert said. “Students suggested Taco Bell and Mexican food, so Tres Habaneros fit the description.”
Based on student feedback, some on campus are embracing the change.
Senior Kevin Valenti can be found at Chipotle at least twice a week. He has not tried Tres Habaneros but is looking forward to exploring their menu.
“Anything is better than Subway,” Valenti said. “It’s a lot more convenient now that there is a restaurant like Chipotle on campus, so I can grab something to eat without having to drive across town.”
When asked what he was going to order Valenti said, “a buffalo chicken burrito with diced onions, chipotle salsa, cheddar jack cheese and lettuce with a side of cilantro lime rice.”
Junior Kelly Floyd, a commuter, does not typically eat on campus but decided to try the new restaurant.
“I ordered two empanadas, and I tried a piece of my friend’s buffalo chicken quesadilla,” Floyd said. “The quesadilla had the perfect amount of spice and heat, which I really enjoyed.”
Floyd said she is definitely looking forward to ordering the buffalo chicken quesadilla when she goes back.
“This was my first experience eating at an on-campus restaurant,” Floyd said. “I’m going to make more of an effort to eat on campus because I really enjoyed what this new restaurant had to offer.”
Senior Becky Vennero decided to try Tres Habaneros and was pleasantly surprised with the options.
“Like Moe’s or Chipotle, you have the choice of picking a burrito, rice bowl, quesadilla and more, then you chose what type of filling you want,” she said. “I generally try to eat healthy, so I like the fact there are rice bowls. They also had many items to choose from for ‘add-ons’ such as jalapeños, cheese and veggies, as well as ‘extras,’ which were more like that you’d order along with your meal.”
Senior Brenna Lyons enjoyed Subway, but sees Tres Habaneros as a nice change for UC.
“If students really want Subway they can always go right across the street and get it,” Lyons said.
While the college is embracing the change, Boehlert said he understands it is difficult for some students — but the price point is there.
“The average check is going to go down for students, and it is a fulfilling meal,” Boehlert explained. “It’s $5.99 for a burrito at Tres Habaneros, whereas Subway you were paying close to $8.”
Floyd ordered two cheese empanadas and found the price, which came to about $5, to be reasonable.
While Tres Habaneros is new to UC, Sodexo has introduced the restaurant to other campuses.
“It’s a great concept,” Boehlert said. “It’s done very well in all locations and all of the bigger schools that Sodexo is involved with are implementing it, too.”
For those looking to give feedback on dining options, UC’s food and service committee, made up of as many as 40 students who give advice and opinions on dining, holds open meetings to all students on the last Wednesday of every month at 1 p.m. in DuRoss Dining Room.