It all started with smoothies. Students at Pennsylvania’s Bucknell University had long been asking for a place where they could order clean blended drinks. The kind made the real unprocessed ingredients—not sugary mixes. But when Director of Retail Operations for Parkhurst Dining Services Jay Breeding opened a pop-up smoothie bar inside Bucknell’s Bison Café last spring, even he didn’t anticipate just how popular it would be. “It was mobbed from the minute we opened,” he says.
The smoothie bar’s success paved the way for the newly opened Bison Fresh, a station offering build-your-own options made with wholesome, seasonal ingredients. Think fresh fruit and vegetable juices; sweet and savory bowls with bases like quinoa, chia pudding or yogurt; stir-fries; and of course, smoothies.
Bison Fresh only offers a handful of main items, but each one is completely customizable. Customers would often tell Breeding that they wanted more options and more variety. But what that really meant was more opportunities for personalization, not more menu items. “It’s the Starbucks effect. Everyone wants to take an item and customize it to their own preference,” he says. At Bison Fresh, customers use order slips to choose the base ingredients and toppings or add-ins that they want, and their meal or drink is made fresh to order.