The Nest occupies the first floor of a new residence hall. It’s open for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Its location near the campus/town border makes The Nest a natural draw for the local community. “We are welcoming the community to come in and dine with us,” says Jessica Cicalese, director of marketing for Aramark/USF dining services. The university website and a robust social media campaign are getting the word out.
Flexibility was a key factor in the design of The Nest, says Aramark/USF Dining Services Resident District Manager David DiSalvo. “There is an element of breathability,” he says. “When demand ramps back up, we want to be able to accommodate it, and when the demand is suppressed, we want it to feel appropriate.” The university has taken a cautious and rigorous approach to combatting COVID, DiSalvo says, which has guided some of the design choices. Fortunately, the space was already set to have modular seating and easily reconfigured tables. In addition, a handwashing station was installed in a central location.
Flexible modular seating has ensured social distancing; because the capacity is limited, to-go meals are also encouraged more than in the past.
Burgers may rule, but interest in allergen-conscious meals is high as well. At True Balance, a dietitian meets with students to help them put together meals that address their allergies or restrictions. “When we originally introduced it on our Tampa campus, we thought it would serve the allergen-sensitive community, but it became one of our most popular stations,” DiSalvo says. “In St. Petersburg we’ve really been able to grow that footprint and program to be more aligned with anticipated demand.”
Tables are equipped with charging outlets for computers and phones. Students also have the power to control the music being played in the space through a phone app.
Create-your-own pizza and locally sourced ingredients are the draw at the pizza station. QSR codes at each station supply nutritional information.
The grill station has drawn the most interest since The Nest opened.
Digital signage will facilitate future menu pivots. It will also come in handy when the space is used for events or for themed menus and promotions. “We wanted to make sure that where we have a deli today, that can quickly shift into a build-your-own bowl concept,” DiSalvo says. A monitor at the tray station also displays the results of a program to weigh waste.
The deli concept specializes in handheld items.
In light of the pandemic, the all-you-care-to-eat menu leans heavily on staff-served items and safe interactions between staff and students.