Chartwells shakes up food court, Bear Cave offerings

Dean Vaglia, Staff Reporter

New is in the air. New classes, new textbooks, new people to meet. And new menus, courtesy of Chartwells.

For the fall 2019 semester, Chartwells has changed up the dining options at Oakland University. While not the magnitude of 2018’s Plum Market inclusion, Wild Blue and Food Works still change the culinary culture of OU.

Wild Blue is a poke bowl and ramen vendor in the Pioneer Food Court in the space once occupied by Create. According to Mark McCormic, Chartwells resident district manager, a change to the Pioneer Food Court was needed.

“We wanted to revitalize Create as the addition of Plum Market absorbed a lot of their customers,” McComic said via email. “There are a lot of limitations in that space as there is no cooking equipment, only hot holding, so there were not a lot of options.”

Chartwells looked at the poke bowl trend and weighed it with the success of the ongoing sushi program. Paired with a ramen component, Chartwells felt comfortable with unleashing the new seafood option at OU.

Pass through some doors and descend some stairs and the second major Chartwells change comes into view. The trusty basement hangout and dining spot of the Bear Cave has a new menu — almost. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. every weekday, the usual Bear Cave menu of pizza, chicken and burgers enters hibernation while Food Works takes over.

“[Chartwells] created a new initiative called Food Works that finds local restaurants — focusing on minority or women-owned business when possible — and partnering with them to bring their successful best dishes to our accounts,” McCormic said. “Food Works makes contact with potential restaurants in the area and coordinates site visits and meetings. If we (and they) feel they are a fit for our campus, we will see if it can work with our schedule.”

For the month of September, the restaurants La Feast (Mediterranean), Anchor Bar (wings, pizza and sliders) and Kruse and Muer all held down spots during the coveted lunchtime hours. The classic menu is still there, though only from 4 to close at 7 p.m. 

While the semester has only just begun and the longevity of the new options is up in the air, student opinions are already beginning to take shape.

“I think the change to Wild Blue was a good idea since Create was mainly salads and a lot of other restaurants at OU already sell salads,” sophomore Tessa Peruzzi said via text message. “I was not aware of the Bear Cave selling food from local restaurants, but I think that is a cool idea. I eat on campus a lot and sometimes get tired of the same options, but that will definitely bring a lot more variety to the school.”

Not all students shared the optimism of Peruzzi, such as senior Kyle Peraino.

“The new dining option, the poke bowl in the OC, it is not that popular of a place,” Peraino claims, chalking his evidence to not seeing much of a line. “I probably would not [eat there] because I do not like that type of food in general.”