Chad Melinger is excited about the pizza oven. It’s big and beautiful, he says, and it’s one of the new features in the newly re-opened café at Butler University in Indianapolis, IN, where Chad is the Bon Appétit Management Company campus executive chef. After being under construction for the fall semester, the café that formerly occupied Butler’s Residential College (ResCo) is back with a new look and feel, many new amenities and plenty of old favorites, and a new name – Midtown Provisions.
The café is a beloved spot-on campus at Butler, embedded in in the first-year residence hall that serves around 600 students. For the students who live here, the café re-opening is highly anticipated, says District Manager Jason Rose, because the café has been under construction the whole time they’ve been on campus.
The team at Butler approached the renovation based on feedback from students, says Melinger. They tripled the amount of retail space after hearing from students that they were looking for an easier way to pick up basic snacks and supplies. Now Midtown Provisions will host the largest convenience store on campus, with expanded options for snack foods, all kinds of drinks, freezer options, and staples like soap and toothpaste.
As for the food, there’s that pizza oven, with plans to bring in a pizza ATM within a few weeks of opening to serve students’ late-night pizza cravings. At the stations, Melinger explains, they’ll bring back the favorite staples that they know the students love, like the fast casual-style customizable bowls that were a hit at the former café. “I’m so excited that this finally opened. I’m vegetarian and I love that I can customize my own bowl! I lived here last year, and I missed the bowls so much,” said Emma, a second-year student at the school.
They’ll also launch a breakfast service for the first time. Ingredients will be sourced according to Bon Appétit’s food standards of course, with much of the produce coming from The Farm at Butler, a one-acre farm on campus whose annual yield is purchased almost exclusively by Bon Appétit.
The kitchen, explains Melinger, is a state-of-the art space with upgraded equipment and an open-window/open-kitchen style so that guests can see everything that’s happening in the realm of food preparation. There’s all new digital signage, and even the mobile ordering system will get an upgrade, building on what’s already in place to make it an even more seamless process.
And just as exciting as the revamped food offerings and shiny new chef-driven kitchen is the renovated dining area, says Jason. With brand new furniture and fixtures, the already-popular gathering area is now doubly welcoming, with plenty of soft seating, booths and banquettes to further boost the space’s value as a central gathering and community-building destination. A mural by local artist Lucie Rice, representing all things Indianapolis and Butler, will wrap around the entire space – a very cool touch that the team was thrilled to unveil to students.
Overall, says Chad, the new offering is “completely different than what any student on Butler’s campus has ever seen.” Kudos to the whole team at Butler Dining for crossing the finish line of this major project!
*Team in above image, right to left: Tashonna Mays, Bre Hill (behind Tashonna), Chelsea Magana, Mia Dix, Julie Alexander