Panda and Togo’s in the lead

In Campus News, News
Photo by Nuran Alteir

Even though it’s the newest addition in the Titan Student Union food court, Panda Express is said to be the most popular restaurant during lunch time with Togo’s following at a close second.

The two are trailed by Fresh Kitchen and Round Table Pizza, and then by the Green Burrito.

“The restaurant lineup at lunch is clearly indicative of the tastes of our diverse campus community—we have regular customers that like to eat at Togo’s daily while others like to change it up and try out the other concepts as well on a daily basis,” said Tony Lynch, director of campus dining services.

Lynch said where students choose to stand in line is more revealing than the amount of money each restaurant, or concept, makes since each differs in prices. Lynch gave the example of the Green Burrito that gets a lot more traffic than at least two of the other food court concepts, yet makes less than other concepts in the TSU.

A lot of the concepts in the food court are successful, but the continued success of Togo’s and the new hype of Panda Express continue to lead the pack with positive feedback from students.

“My experience at Panda Express has been a pleasant one; everything I have gotten has tasted really good. I love Chinese food and I love the variety it has, especially the meat selection,” said Sara Barajas, 20, a criminal justice major and Panda Express regular.

Togo’s continues to be a very popular offering in the food court, said Kurt Borsting, director of the TSU. At one point it may have been one of the busiest Togo’s in Orange County, he said.

The foot traffic and success of the concepts depend on the time of day.

The busiest hours in the food court are lunch time from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., when the lines of Panda Express and Togo’s are the longest. The slowest hours are in the early morning from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and in the evenings from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The entire food court services more than 3,000 customers Mondays through Thursdays and less than 1,000 customers Fridays.

The Auxiliary Services Corporation does all the commercial activity on campus, like the book store and campus food service. To find out which restaurant in the TSU is most successful, they monitor customer traffic, track sales and solicit customer feedback.

Maintaining good service so everyone can enjoy the food court is a priority for both auxiliary organizations, which consist of Associated Students Inc. and the TSU, and the Auxiliary Services Corporation.

Borsting said they have their own quality control programs so that, even though the campus is the franchise operator, officials from the national brand come out to make sure they are doing a good job and maintaining quality standards.

Along with Customer Input Surveys around the TSU and online surveys available on the ASI website, ASI also has a Food Advisory Committee that meets monthly, said Ginny Cheung, the Governing Board’s vice chair for services.

“The Auxiliary Service Corporation is the food service operator, but it is also a partnership. We want to make sure that there is a nice diverse set of offerings, not just food that is all similar to each other. And both our agreement and our working relationship reflect that,” said Borsting.

And while sandwiches, burritos, salads, tangy orange chicken and organic food might be the number one choices for lunch, “The Cup” dominates most mornings, Lynch and Borsting said.

The little coffee shop brews Starbucks coffee. Hot beverages like its white caffe mocha, iced beverages such as their new frappuccinos and baked goods are popular selections to start off mornings.

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