When planning the six new restaurants of The Restaurants at Southwest at the University of Missouri’s newly constructed dorm/dining hall, the culinary team debated whether it would be all you care to eat or a la carte. Their decision reflects a growing trend toward more focused concepts and less hodgepodge. Each of the six concepts is specialized; you can get a whole meal in one stop.
A sharper focus
“It was an all-you-care-to-eat facility that we replaced. We didn’t make it so much, ‘This is cooked just for you, here’s 110 ingredients you can choose’…most customers don’t know what to do with Thai basil or lemon grass and fresh ginger,” says Eric Cartwright, executive chef. “Part of the decision was based on unique brands, single-units that we’d had success with in other locations. You can customize still, but it’s between a couple of sauces and a few proteins. When I look at fast-casual operations, one of the things that makes them successful is taking a very focused look at the menu. They do one thing and do it really well.”
“At the previous facility, Dobb’s [burger concept] was known as a good place to get burgers,” Cartwright says. “So we thought, we need to take this with us. That became Legacy Grill, and it’s the most popular concept right now.”
Olive & Oil
The second most popular station (in part because of the hummus), Olive & Oil is Mediterranean-inspired hummus and pita.
Build-your-own pasta from Olive & Oil
…And Olive & Oil has also been incredibly popular for its build-your-own pasta station where students can pick a noodle, a sauce, a protein and then top it off with garnishes like pesto, sautéed veggies, peppadew peppers and artichoke hearts.
1+5+3 Salads & Soups
This salad station gets its name from this simple formula for great entrée salads: 1 protein, 5 veggies and 3 toppings. Housemade soups at 1+5+3 rotate throughout the week and there are other salads, like a quinoa salad and tuna salad.
This is the place for sweets (like the namesake truffles), smoothies, yogurt parfaits and pastries. Coffee offerings here are very basic, because there is a new Starbucks in the same building.
Tiger Avenue Deli
“Rather than ‘another deli,’ we wanted more Philly-style sandwiches with the peppers, mushrooms and melted cheese. We didn’t have a hot sandwich concept like this anywhere else; we wanted to differentiate within our world here on campus,” Cartwright says. “We tested sample after sample of bread. It needed to be durable if I’m going to load it up with hot meat and cheese and vegetables.”
Burger from Legacy Grill
Proof that sometimes it’s best not to fix what isn’t broken.
“Comfort food to warm the soul” is the tagline for this home-style concept, which originated with a piece of equipment: a rotisserie oven. “We wanted something we didn’t have anywhere else on campus,” Cartwright says. “It’s similar to a meat-and-three counter, “nothing rocket science…chicken or country fried steak, mashed potato, green beans and a really good creamed corn.