Parkland College's student services chief remembers the moment he was sold on having Hendrick House Dorms of Urbana as the school's new food service provider. It was his students' reaction to the vendor during a spring visit.
"They raved and raved about that experience," Vice President for Students Services Mike Trame said about the group of Parkland students who toured other Champaign-Urbana sites that Hendrick House operates in, including the University of Illinois' Newman House and Carle at the Fields.
"After seeing Hendrick House's work, our students seemed to think the company would understand what Parkland College students would want in a cafeteria: diverse and quality food for a reasonable price," Trame said. "They seemed happy with the choice, and if they're happy, I'm happy."
Parkland College plans to welcome Hendrick House as "Betsy's Bistro at Parkland" starting Sept. 10. Under a five-year contract, Betsy's Bistro will operate out of Parkland's Student Union cafeteria, offering a variety of appetizing made-to-order and ready-made menu items, along with catering services and a coffee shop. The move replaces Chartwells Dining Services, which decided not to renew its food service contract with the college.
Betsy’s Bistro at Parkland's options will include a grill for made-to-order breakfasts, hamburgers, chicken sandwiches, and wraps; a salad and noodle bar; wood-fired pizza, grab-and-go items including sushi; cold-brew and nitro coffee; and a "comfort food" station featuring global foods. Prices will range from $3 to $9.
With its focus on freshly prepared food using local ingredients whenever possible, Hendrick House has served as a campus residence and food option to University of Illinois students for 70 years. Trame said these aspects of the company also made him excited about the switch.
"Key in our evaluation of Hendrick House was their connection to this community," he said. "They're ingrained in serving products they grow right in our area, as well as in boosting local bakers, roasteries, and other food vendors. They have a great understanding of the area's marketplace and demand."
The team at Hendrick House shares in the excitement of adding Parkland College to its food service facility lineup, said Juan Molina, general manager of corporate catering and retail accounts. They also look forward to incorporating local partners such as Ye Olde Donut Shoppe, Homer Soda Company, Piemonte Sausage, Central Illinois Produce and Columbia Street Roastery in their menu offerings at Parkland's campus.
"We're ready for the opportunity to be even more involved in the community than we already are, both to offer our services to Parkland College and to introduce the Parkland community to what we do," Molina said.
Hendrick House's food truck, Betsy's Bistro, has provided a summertime lunch option outside Parkland College's Student Union since May 2017. These food trucks are extending lunch service at Parkland for the fall in the B1 parking lot until the cafeteria opens.