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The Shepherd Union Building has ended its five-year contract with the sandwich shop Hogi Yogi. Over spring break,
the space has been renovated into a salad and sandwich operation powered by Sodexo. The pilot restaurant will feature made-to-order food and will also serve as a place to test-drive some of Sodexo’s new ideas.
“We will be doing work to assess it, to learn from it, and we’ll be asking students what they like and what they don’t like so we can learn and improve it,” said Bill Fruth, the director of the Shepherd Union Building.
According to Fruth, the decision not to renew Hogi Yogi’s contract was mutual. Fruth said Weber State University had a good relationship with Hogi Yogi, and that Hogi Yogi was a good business partner. He was significantly involved in the process, and said conversations between Hogi Yogi and the union building have been going on for months.
Although just a beta version of the full change planned for fall semester, the new eatery is now open for students to try.
“It’s kind of an exciting thing, to be honest,” Fruth said. “We do focus groups, surveying, and a good fresh sandwich is something people have been requesting and that can be prepared in front of them . . . and not something you’re taking out of the cooler.”
Ryan Marx, a caterer for Sodexo, said he thinks there will be a mixed response from the students. He said there are people who like the name brand Hogi Yogi and will like a sandwich more just because the label is on it. He also said other people enjoy food that is more local and less corporate.
Fruth said students have also been requesting fresh salad and healthier options from the dining places on campus.
“We really needed to find a way to fit that need better than we have been doing, and we hope that this will meet that need,” he said.
The menu will be crafted to fit the needs of the students, and adjustments will be made to, as Fruth said, “improve it to meet the longer vision.”
“It was the only corporate restaurant at Weber State,” Marx said. “Sodexo is not only very talented, but it also hires students, who have a pretty good idea what is good and what is bad.”
Social work major Marisa McNees said she does not eat in the union building, but will probably start because of the new eatery. She said she is allergic to MSG and could not eat Hogi Yogi before.
Preston Carter, a philosophy and English double major, said that once Hogi Yogi is gone, the only thing missing from the union building will be sandwiches.
“I live in the dorms, and Sodexo has a build-your-own-sandwich (place) there and it’s pretty good,” Carter said.
Not everyone agreed that Hogi Yogi should have left.
“It was a different option from Sodexo,” said Trevor Annis, a microbiology major. “You can buy that (Sodexo sandwiches) from the (QuickZone).”
Annis said he does not often eat in the union building because he usually brings his lunch to school.
“Food is so important. It’s kinda like the glue that keeps the community together,” Fruth said. “Getting it right is important, but sometimes it takes patience to get it right.”