Tiger Dining will offer students several new options to grab a bite to eat on campus in 2021, including The Edge at Central Dining, a new dining hall located just south of the Harold D. Melton Student Center. Glenn Loughridge, director of campus dining, spoke with The Plainsman about what students can expect throughout the year.
The Edge at Central Dining
The Edge will be the largest dining hall yet on Auburn’s campus and will open in the fall. Loughridge said The Edge will include eight different stations.
"The Market," a deli option, will feature sandwiches and salads. "Twirl" will feature pasta made in-house. "Street Works" will feature tortillas made in-house, and "Pizza on the Plains" will feature pizza with dough made in-house. "True Balance" will be an allergen-friendly station with a rotating menu. "Traditions" will feature homestyle cooking. "Urban Kitchen" will offer a rotating selection cooked on a round grill and "Ignite" will offer customizable grill items.
Loughridge said the allergen station will aim to be an accessible option, eliminating eight major allergens, including "eggs, dairy, finfish, shellfish, soy, wheat, peanut, tree nut [and] gluten." Its food will be made “really clean, with not a lot of ingredients,” he said.
The goal is to provide flexibility and variety to students, Loughridge said.
“We want there to be places where you can count on getting something that's familiar, easy,” he said. “But at the same time, one of the things that I really thought hard about is [that] we don't want to pigeonhole too much. Because no matter if we moved your favorite restaurant in next door to your house … it wouldn't say your favorite restaurant.”
While they will have featured items that are made in-house, like tortillas, pasta and pizza dough, Loughridge said each station will have a rotating menu.
He said The Edge can hold up to 800 seats, but the actual number will depend on social distancing guidelines. The building is set to be the new central dining location for campus, Loughridge said, able to serve 3,000 people each day during lunch hours.
“The Student Center is supposed to be the students’ living room, and right now it's functioning as the kitchen,” Loughridge said. “This is the kitchen. We want you to come when you want to.”
Loughridge said the seating is not designed merely for capacity, however, but to provide several different dining experiences to students.
“One of the things I love about the space is that you've got spaces when you're right in the middle,” Loughridge said. “So if you want to have that kind of urban feel, you can sit down, and you're kind of watching all the food get prepared and watching people walk in and out. [But] … we also have seating over here and kind of behind.”
The floor plan of the building has the dining stations pushed away from the walls, providing quiet spaces between these stations and the building’s windows for more peaceful seating. The layout almost works in three rings — inner seating, dining stations and outer seating.
The upper floor of the dining hall also features seats divided by lateral walls into 40- and multiple 20-seat sections. The smaller sections, Loughridge said, will be available for group or organization reservations.
The Edge will also feature a partnership with the Auburn Foods brand, which will be used to mark food that was grown on campus by the college of agriculture.
The bottom floor of the building will feature a new Starbucks, but Loughridge said it will not be open until after the Academic Classroom and Learning Complex, which is under construction in the same area, is finished.
The hours for the dining hall will be 7 a.m.–10 p.m. on Monday–Thursday, 7 a.m.–9 p.m. on Friday, 8 a.m.–9 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m.–10 p.m. on Sunday.
Tiger Dining will also be restructuring its meal plans in the fall. The main change is the addition of “All Access” meal plans, which will allow students to swipe into a dining hall for all-day access.
The All Access plans allow students to eat multiple times at the same dining hall in one day without using multiple meal swipes. Loughridge said these plans were designed with The Edge in mind.
“If you’ve got a meal swipe, we’re going to want you to come here,” he said.
The new meal plans, which are detailed on the Tiger Dining website, feature nine different options in several tiers.
The first tier includes two plans designed for off-campus students that only have a dining dollar balance. The second tier includes three plans that each have a set number of meal swipes per semester combined with a dining dollar balance. The third tier includes two plans, each with a weekly meal swipe allowance as well as a dining dollar balance. The fourth and most expensive tier includes two plans, each with an All Access pass and a dining dollar balance.
Loughridge said that he recommends the “weekly 10,” one of the meal swipes and dining dollars combination plans that offers 10 meal swipes per week, for incoming freshmen.
“If you go and you have breakfast in your room or you have some snacks, you should be able to go through a semester pretty easily eating on that,” he said.
Loughridge said he recommends the All Access plans for on-campus students who live out of state or internationally and who do not have a car, or who need to budget closely.
Campus Dining will also be piloting a late-night food truck option starting April 8–10, Loughridge said.
This first test will determine the future of the program, which Loughridge said will rely on "students using the services [and] staying safe as well as keeping the truck safe and keeping the area clean."
A rotating selection of food trucks will be parked in the lot on West Magnolia Avenue next to the Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity house, Loughridge said, which has been brought about in partnership with the University’s Health and Wellness campaign for safe drinking.
This project is also in accordance with efforts from Rett Waggoner, Student Government Association president and junior in finance, who made late-night dining one of his campaign promises.
“I got the opportunity to meet with Rett, and that was one of the things that was really important to him,” Loughridge said. “As with every SGA president, we work hard to bring their platform points to fruition, and I really have to give [Rett] credit for the idea.”
Foy Dining Hall will keep both Panda Express and Chicken Salad Chick this fall, but the dining hall kitchen will not be open. Loughridge said that the seating in Foy will remain available and that Tiger Dining intends to expand the “Foy on the Fly” meal pickup program, but the Aramark dining staff will be focused on the Central Dining location instead.
Do you like this story? The Plainsman doesn't accept money from tuition or student fees, and we don't charge a subscription fee. But you can donate to support The Plainsman.
Emma Kirkemier, junior in English literature with a minor in journalism, is the campus reporter for The Auburn Plainsman.