Wholly Habaneros opens in HUB

Students line up at Wholly Habanero, located in the Student Center’s HUB, on Aug. 29, 2015. Wholly Habaneros is new to the HUB and offers a create-your-own burrito bar.

Jacob Runnels

Wholly Habaneros has opened its doors as the newest eatery in the Student Center’s HUB.

The campus-based Mexican restaurant replaced Jump Asian Express, which has been in the HUB for 10 years, and joins Wow Bao as one of the newest restaurants to appear in the HUB. The authentic Asian restaurant is replacing Nathan’s Famous and Arthur Treacher’s Fish & Chips.

The changes began after Dining Services held several student focus groups last year, said Richard Roldan, resident district manager of University Dining Services.

“As we were looking at options and what to do, Mexican was one (option) that was up there,” Roldan said. 

Roldan said the top three food choices students preferred in the focus groups were Mexican, Asian and Italian. With the addition of Wholly Habaneros, Roldan said it was important for them to expand to other ethnicities when it came to dining choices in the HUB.

The replacements are part of a change in restaurant selection philosophy in the HUB that plans to offer patrons more variety when it comes to healthy or unhealthy choices.

Patrons can choose a meal that’s either healthy or unhealthy at one restaurant, rather than having two restaurants serving strictly healthy or unhealthy options. 

“The freshness and variety that Wholly Habaneros exemplifies offers the student something fresh (with) its choices and variety,” said Timothy Wright, assistant director of University Dining Services. “We have a lot of international students that may enjoy a wider variety of options and introducing concepts like Wow Bao and Wholly Habaneros allows the student population to enjoy different food models.”

However, these restaurants raise concerns for students with food allergies.

Megan Cascaldo, nutritionist for Dining Services, said Wholly Habaneros will be gluten-friendly. Although gluten products are handled in the kitchen, the staff is well-educated to prepare to serve someone with allergies. 

Students with allergies like celiac disease, an autoimmune disorder that makes the digestion of gluten difficult, said they are affected by any restaurant changes in the HUB.

Ryan Ohlin, a junior integrated language arts major with celiac disease, said that his dining options in the HUB were limited.

“Whenever I was in the Hub, Jump [Asian Express] was a good place to go,” Ohlin said. “Otherwise, I was looking at ice cream from Auntie Anne’s and French fries from Arthur Treacher’s.”

Ohlin said that because Mexican food is often made of corn and rice, which are ingredients safe for those with celiac disease to eat, Wholly Habaneros is a good option for in the HUB.

The restaurant, which is  open from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. during the semester, is associated with food services corporation Sodexo USA, which also manages Slice of Life Pizza in the HUB.

Contact Jacob Runnels at [email protected].