The new dining site that will replace the IHOP Express in PCB has finally been revealed to be a new Chick-fil-A.
For the past few months, students walking into the PCB could see that what had once been an IHOP Express had suddenly become a blocked off mystery. A sign proclaimed that a new dining site was being constructed, but there was no mention of what the new restaurant would be.
But now, UT Dining Services have put out advertisements indicating that it will be a new Chick-fil-A restaurant.
Matthew Perry, marketing coordinator for UT Dining Services, said that the change from an IHOP to a Chick-fil-A was completely driven by student opinion.
"When we look at putting in new dining locations and changing things, we ask for student input every year," Perry said.
"And what we found from last spring was that IHOP wasn't as popular as we anticipated when it first opened."
Mary Patterson, marketing director for UT Dining Services, explained that part of IHOP's lack of success was due to the PCB Café being located just upstairs and cutting into the demand for breakfast food that would have otherwise gone to IHOP.
"(PCB Café) has a full breakfast buffet," Patterson said. "So morning and afternoon, IHOP really didn't do any difference at all. It was mostly late night."
Both Perry and Patterson explained that the feedback from students indicated that another Chick-fil-A was in demand, saying that students liked Chick-fil-A "unanimously."
The other Chick-fil-A located in the University Center will remain open and will be unaffected by the new one. The purpose of having two Chick-fil-As is to accommodate student demand, and also to reconcile with the UC Chick-fil-A having to close at the same time as the UC, which is usually no later than 8 p.m.
The new Chick-fil-A will be open until 1 a.m., Monday through Friday. It will close at midnight on Saturdays in order to honor Chick-fil-A's policy of not being open on Sundays. It will accept Dining Dollars and will accept Meal Equivalency, but only at dinner.
Another difference between the two Chick-fil-As is that the new restaurant will be a full-service brand, as opposed to the "express" Chick-fil-A in the UC. Students will be able to place an order directly at the cash register and have their meal cooked to order instead of picking up pre-cooked items.
Patterson is hoping that the construction at PCB, which has expanded upstairs to the PCB Café for ventilation work, will be done by the first week of October, and possibly even sooner. The reason for boarding up the construction site is simply to contain all of the dust and metal shards and to keep the renovation from becoming a hazard to the students.
"It's completely gutted," Patterson said. "When you switch from one brand to another, you pretty much follow the specs of the brand. We had to buy all of the equipment that fits into Chick-fil-A's specifications. It's the fryer, the hoods, everything. The machine that breads the product, the milkshake machine. It's converting one from the other."
Dining Services is also not too concerned about the recent controversy that surrounded Chick-fil-A and its stance on same-sex marriage.
"When we've talked to students, like during orientation, their response has always been that they're really excited for Chick-fil-A. ... The positive reaction from the students overwhelmed all of that."
Patterson and Perry acknowledged that there were some petitions, specifically one from Change.org, where people expressed a negative reaction to the university having a Chick-fil-A. However, Patterson estimated that only 150 people had signed that petition.
"No matter what brand it is, (it) will have positive or negative opinions from customers," said Perry. "So our focus with Chick-fil-A is that we saw the demand. We saw that students love Chick-fil-A — they love their food."