While the majority of students are away from Columbia this summer, the Russell House is being renovated to add 12 new food locations, including a full-service Chick-Fil-A and Panera Bread.
The Carolina Food Co., the food service provider for the University of South Carolina, is responsible for the renovations. Faren Alston, dining marketing director at the Carolina Food Co., said USC’s dining was in need of an update, and that the feedback from the University’s community was “vital” in deciding which food options would be included in the renovations.
“We held several focus groups, food advisory meetings, brand tastings, and conducted surveying to understand what the vision was for the Russell House and what brands would best meet the needs of the campus community,” Alston said.
The Carolina Food Co. used industry research to determine food brands that are successful on college campuses to help them decide what to offer. The goal was to strike a balance between popular brands and local brands to provide students with diverse food options and accommodate students who have specific dietary needs.
The renovation will be funded by Aramark, a customer service business that includes food, facilities and uniform services. Hood Construction will complete the estimated $9.5 million renovation.
Other restaurant additions include Oath Craft Pizza, Tavolino, Congaree River Smokehouse, Pei Wei and Twisted Taco.
Second-year global studies student Dylan Knoles is interested in new restaurant additions and thinks having a variety of options is important.
“Especially with stuff like this, we can use our meal swipes and Carolina Cash for it, because doing stuff like that, giving more options with that lets you save a lot more money that you would spend on food otherwise," Knoles said.
Fourth-year visual communications student David Schriver is glad new food options are coming to the Russell House.
“For some students I do think it’s necessary [to have a variety of food options] just because on-campus housing doesn’t provide a kitchen for some people,” Schriver said.
The Russell House has been modified three times since it was built to meet the increase in enrolled students at USC.
"We are so excited about the dynamic brands that we are bringing to the University of South Carolina as we continue to elevate the dining experience for our Gamecocks," Alston said.