The University of Connecticut Dining Services debuted its CrossRoads plant-based café late last month, offering a unique menu of plant-forward options designed to satisfy meat-eaters as well as vegetarians and vegans. Many items on the menu—which includes ready-to-go salads and sandwiches made fresh every day on campus, desserts from the UConn Bakery, as well as build-your-own yogurt bowls—are also gluten-free.
The idea for CrossRoads began last October when UConn undergraduate Madelyn Pickett emailed Dining Services with her proposal for the plant-based café. To gauge the interest of the campus community, the department then sent out a survey that generated thousands of responses in support of the café idea.
Although vegan and vegetarian fare is available in all campus dining facilities, Dining Services saw an opportunity with this cafe to bring additional exposure and availability of high-quality plant-based products on the market to flexitarians on campus, along with creating an education component on the health and sustainability aspects of a plant-forward diet. After receiving full approval from the University, Dining Services conducted a menu tasting for students in March in its Innovation Lab with Robert Landolphi, associate director for culinary development and residential dining.
When it came time to creating the branded look for CrossRoads, Dining Services continued with the idea of keeping elements of the Café centered around student involvement, with UConn digital media and design major Jared Beltz developing the logo, branding guide and color palette for the café. Meanwhile, the café space was remodeled this summer with wood elements, plants from the UConn Horticulture Club and campus photography to create a natural and welcoming feel surrounding high-top tables and a lounge space that are available for dining and studying.
In addition to its meal service, CrossRoads also serves to educate and spread awareness on the importance of sustainability across campus, with the Crossroads Events Management Committee coordinating and hosting events on a range of topics relating to the plant-forward movement such as sustainable farming, alternative proteins and various nutritional topics.
Here’s a photo tour of Crossroads…