Inside INdiana Business

Purdue Union eateries to undergo major renovation

The ground level of Purdue Memorial Union, including the food court area, will undergo a massive renovation starting in August. (image courtesy: Purdue University)

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — Dining options at Purdue University will be undergoing significant changes on the West Lafayette campus after the school entered into an agreement with Philadelphia-based Aramark (NYSE: ARMK) to manage retail food services.

The changes, which begin this fall, include a multi-million-dollar renovation of the food court area inside Purdue Memorial Union.

As part of the partnership, Aramark will invest $25 million toward the complete renovation of the ground floor of the union, which includes about 67,000-square-feet of dining space. The university will be adding another $10 million towards the project.

The announcement comes as the university is prepared to reopen the Purdue Union Club Hotel which is wrapping up a $35 million renovation.

“As the plans and announcement for the hotel renovation came into focus, we thought it was important to have an upgrade, particularly retail dining, to be consistent with the great work being done at the hotel,” said Rob Wynkoop, associate vice president for auxiliary services at Purdue.

Purdue says the dining operator agreement has a 10-year term with two five-year renewal options.

“Aramark has a wealth of experience and submitted a strong proposal when we issued our RFP last fall,” said Wynkoop. “We were very focused on a retail solution that brought new and real choices to the retail dining experience on the West Lafayette campus.”

The company will take over operations of 35 retail dining locations on campus, including 11 eateries inside PMU. The deal does not include student dining hall food operations.

“We look forward to helping the University with its campus transformation and, ultimately, enhancing the living and learning experience and environment for students, faculty, staff and visitors,” said Jack Donovan, president of Aramark’s Higher Education division.

Wynkoop says the space will be transformed into the Purdue Marketplace. The union will add several well-known chain restaurants, including Panera Bread, Qdoba Mexican Eats and Firehouse Subs.

It also plans to add Walk-On’s Sports Bistreaux, co-owned by Purdue alumnus Drew Brees.

The university wants to make dining options attractive not only to the university population but the community as well.

“The university is a destination, a great destination. People come here to ride bikes with their family, on the weekends. There should be dining options, not just students, but for everyone in the community,” said Wynkoop.

However, Aramark will also remove several of the current restaurants, including Pappy’s Sweet Shop. Pappy’s has been on campus since 1927 and currently offers a 50s-style diner motif.

“The functional structure is going away,” said Wynkoop. But he says Walk-On’s will be adding some of the signature items from the Pappy’s menu. “So it’s not completely going away.”

While demolition will begin later this summer, Wynkoop says the plan is to be open for business in January 2022.

Purdue says all current university employees affected by the transition have been offered a job with Aramark.