Lower Sproul vendors discussed at ASUC Student Union board meeting

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A bar, burger joint and pizza eatery are among the vendors headed to Lower Sproul Plaza in fall.

Along with discussing vendors, the ASUC Student Union Board of Directors vetted design concepts and began planning an operating budget for the new complex at its Tuesday meeting. The board has been coordinating the Lower Sproul vendors for about two and a half years.

Collaborating with food-management company Chartwells since February 2013, the student union board has chosen House of Pi, Asado, True Blue Burgers and Root 150 as restaurants to open in the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Union. The complex will also include a reopened Bear’s Lair, which closed in December 2012 because of construction plans. Chartwells will be the new manager of the full restaurant and bar, according to spokesperson Kristine Andrews, and is aiming for a more modern design.

Additionally, two coffee shops and a student store will open in the complex, though the contract with BBA Solutions — the provider for the bookstore — has not yet been finalized, said student union Executive Director Kelsey Finn. Many student organizations, including the ASUC and the Graduate Assembly, will be moving into offices in the complex as well.

“When you have that many student groups in one place, as well as food, as well as places to study, it really creates a central location on campus where whatever you need can be done,” said 2015-16 ASUC Executive Vice President Lavanya Jawaharlal.

Chartwells will pay the student union rent to operate the vendors. From that revenue, a minimum of $250,000 annually will go to the ASUC and the GA, Finn said. The student union will allocate about 66 percent of revenue to the ASUC and 34 percent to the GA, according to Joe Wilson, ASUC EVP chief of staff.

Logo designs for the vendors were discussed at the Tuesday meeting as well, but most have to go back to the drawing board, as several board members expressed dissatisfaction with the proposed logo design concepts.


Alvin Wu / staff

The Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project has been in the works for about a decade and operates under a $223 million budget. From 2006-07, the campus conducted a concept study of the new Lower Sproul complex, looking into the future of the project. A master plan was completed in 2009 with the help of student input, including some garnered from a sustainable design workshop proposing that food inside the building be organic and local. The student union, however, ultimately went with Chartwells-operated vendors instead of local ones.

“We did want to be a part of the student union complex, and I think they went to a corporate mindset,” said Daniel Daniel, co-owner of the local Tivoli Caffe. “We wanted the spot so we could share (with) people our love and our food.”

The complex will house a range of dining options: House of Pi will offer pizza; Asado will offer burritos and tacos; True Blue Burgers will offer hamburgers; and Root 150 will offer soups, salads and sandwiches. The four restaurants, along with the Bear’s Lair and the coffee shops, will probably not accept Cal Dining meal points, according to Finn. She said, however, that they will accept funds from the Cal 1 Card debit system.

“Our goal is to get them to be able to take points, but we’re working on that,” she said.

The Lower Sproul project is funded through a combination of student fees, approved by the passage of the 2010 B.E.A.R.S. Initiative, and campus-provided funds. Initially explored by the campus, the project is now run by the student union, formerly known as the ASUC Auxiliary. According to DeeJay Pepito, commercial space coordinator for the student union and former ASUC president, the project has run smoothly thus far.

“I think the redevelopment project has made tremendous progress in a short time frame,” she said in an email. “I am confident that we are creating a state of the art student union unlike any other in the nation.”

In addition to discussing the vendors, the student union board also talked about the finalization of the complex’s operating budget. The board plans to determine a budgetary forecast by July 1 and a solid plan for the budget by January.

Contact Andrea Platten at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @andreaplatonic.