Though the recent addition of the Sprinkles ATM has drawn a lot of attention to the dining scene on campus, USC Hospitality has taken major strides in revamping and restructuring its venues and food offerings. With changes being made throughout the University Park Campus, several new developments have played an instrumental role in shaping the new culinary culture at USC.
The Sprinkles ATM, since its opening on Monday, has been a major attraction for students and community members. Sales and revenue numbers have not been revealed, but the dispensary has brought busy traffic to the Pertusati Bookstore.
The partnership with Sprinkles has raised the question of whether or not the University will be able to control what happens with cupcakes left in the ATM after 24 hours.
Erika Chesley, the associate director of marketing, development and training for USC Hospitality, said cupcakes that are not sold within Sprinkles’ 24-hour policy are donated to a local food bank. USC Hospitality, however, sees an opportunity to give back to the local community.
“We are currently working with the University to establish a food bank for students with financial disadvantages,” Chesley said.
Another change that has been made is the addition of super foods and plant-based proteins to Seeds Marketplace’s existing salad bar. The new Superfood Protein Salad includes exotic items such as quinoa and goji berries. The establishment, one of the busiest dining locations on campus, has worked to ensure that it is providing its customers with healthy alternatives to meat proteins.
LiteraTea, located behind Doheny Library, has received a menu upgrade as well. The small cafe will offer four different types of cheese melt sandwiches. In addition, tomato bisque and other soups will be sold fresh daily to complement the sandwiches.
Beyond menu changes, USC Hospitality has also opened its first cafe serving Pan-Asian cuisine. Fertitta Cafe, located at the Jill and Frank Fertitta Hall, offers a wide selection of foods such as banh mi, ramen, sushi, bao and dumplings. Within days of opening, the cafe has seen exponential growth in the amount of revenue.
Adjacent to Fertitta Cafe, Popovich Cafe is undergoing renovation and changes of its own. Gary Marschall, the associate director of retail operations, said that USC Hospitality has been very intentional with theming different venues on campus to assess students’ needs.
To differentiate Popovich Cafe from its neighbor, the cafe has experienced a major menu revamp. Following Labor Day weekend, the cafe will open again, serving exclusively Mediterranean food, such as wraps, salads and pita. In addition, the cafe will offer açaí bowls and coffee stations provided by Illy.
Both cafes have established major success in partnering with local vendors. Fertitta Cafe secured an exclusive partnership with Phoenix Dessert, an upscale Chinese bakery, while Popovich Cafe has earned rights to sell items from Cuban-American owned business Porto’s Bakery. These partnerships have been pivotal to USC Hospitality’s desire to provide more locally-sourced foods to students and faculty.
One of the final developments within the University’s dining scene is the addition of the Teaching Garden, which provides USC venues with fresh produce. Behind the USC Radisson Hotel on Figueroa Street, 60 towers have been installed with plants gardened under special technology.
In addition, 20 towers are in the process of being installed at the residential dining complex EVK. The department has partnered with L.A. Urban Farms to manage various herbs and produce that have been grown since April. For the past several months, the garden has provided McKay’s, the Lab Gastropub and Moreton Fig with produce grown from farm to table. With the additional towers at Everybody’s Kitchen, many will be able to enjoy locally-grown produce.
Dirk De Jong expanded on USC Hospitality’s mission to serve the University community, and hopes to continue improving and adapting to the students’ needs.
“Overall, our goal is to be able to provide all students with a unique dining experience through our diverse dining venues,” said De Jong. “We hope to create an interesting landscape where there are different dining options for everyone.”