Katie Hillman – Staff Writer
CLARION, Pa.- Upon returning from winter break, Clarion students, faculty and staff discovered a new dining option available in the Gemmell Food Court: Sushi-Do.
Sushi-Do, located between the soup table and the “On the Go” cooler, Sushi-Do offers a variety of fresh sushi options including California rolls, salmon, tempura options and many more, including a few combination trays.
Chartwells decided to add sushi to its menu after students requested it numerous times over the last few years.
“I wanted to find the freshest approach to sushi possible,” said Jeffrey MacTaggart, director of dining services. “I looked at about four or five other places that other schools had to see what worked best for them.”
In his search, MacTaggart’s main concerns were food safety and sanitation practices, freshness and how well students at other schools enjoyed the food they offered. He felt Sushi-Do was the most practical option, especially in freshness. Sushi is made fresh and packaged each day; whatever does not get sold by the end of the day gets thrown out so that everything remains fresh.
Within the first week, more than 200 units of sushi were sold. “Right now we’re just fishing around and seeing what the students like best,” MacTaggart said. “Shrimp tempura rolls are very popular. So are California rolls and the combos.”
This semester is just the beginning for Sushi-Do. If it continues to do well, there are plans to bring in an on-site chef and relocate Sushi-Do to where the Hershey’s ice cream stand was. If this happens, hot items will be added to the menu including chicken and shrimp rice bowls.
“We just have to see if it will sustain itself,” MacTaggart said. “How will it be in April? We just have to see how it goes for now.”
April is when students often begin to run out of flex, which would impact the number of students purchasing sushi.
“When it comes to sushi, especially when we’re looking at meal exchange options, it’s not the cheapest,” MacTaggart said. “We have to really look into it and see, can we get a decent meal deal?”
“Students may wish that it was cheaper, but there’s a certain point where that would cause the quality to decline,” MacTaggart said. “Sushi-Do is the best option and it gives you the best bang for your buck.”
Students are also unable to use their meal exchanges at the Den, which opened last spring. According to MacTaggart, the Den is doing okay business-wise, but not as well as he would have hoped.
“I wish that it would be a lot busier,” MacTaggart said. “Not only do I wish more students would come in, but more members of the public too.”
“Part of the public’s concern is parking, but there is plenty of free parking available in the lots,” MacTaggart said. These lots were constructed after the demolition of the Wilkinson and Nair dormitories.
“But overall, business is fine. Students still have flex available to them, so it’s okay at the moment.”
Like Sushi-Do, Chartwells is currently considering a few options for meal exchanges at the Den. “The Den is a whole different ballgame,” MacTaggart said. “It’s a franchise, and we’re not currently paying the franchise fees that would allow The Den to accept board. This would cause a higher operation cost.”
“We don’t run Denny’s; Denny’s runs Denny’s,” MacTaggart said. “However, they have used the meal exchange program at other locations, so we’re looking into it here as well.”
“When you’re looking into where students can use board, you have to consider: how many places can use board?” MacTaggart said. “You can’t offer it everywhere, so you have to carefully consider your best options.”
The Den’s hours are also currently under discussion. “We’re thinking about potentially increasing The Den’s hours and creating a fourth meal zone,” MacTaggart said. “Many students use The Den as a hangout spot from 9 to 11p.m. at night, so we may open up even later.”
This decision is in “discussion mode only.” Nothing is set in stone until MacTaggart and Chartwells see what students have to say and look into what options would work best.