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Campus Dining Café to Open in Fall 2020

Editor's note: As a result of the pandemic, the campus dining café did not open in fall 2020.


Change is coming to Cal State San Marcos next fall with an exciting, new dining experience focused on community, quality, value, sustainability and variety.

The university’s dining café will open on the first floor of The QUAD in time for the start of the fall 2020 semester.

“Opening a dining hall at CSUSM is a great decision,” said Victoria Dorzhu, an international student from Russia. “Having a dining hall will promote students eating healthier and regularly.”

The 8,000-square-foot café will have indoor and outdoor seating for about 250 people. The café will serve breakfast, lunch and dinner seven days a week and will be open to students, faculty, staff and guests.

“We want to create a dining room experience that offers flexibility, convenience and affordability where people can have a well-balanced, healthy meal,” said Janelle Temnick, business operations lead for CSUSM Corporation.

The café will be all-you-care-to-eat with a wide variety of options that include rotating menus and specials. There will also be plenty of offerings to accommodate dietary restrictions, including allergen-free, gluten-free and vegan dishes.

Beyond important practical reasons for having a café option, it will also help build community by providing opportunities for programming, as well as for students, faculty and staff to share a meal together.

The café has been in the works for more than two years, and it is what initially attracted Jason Nussbaum to his current position as general manager of Sodexo, which manages food services on campus.

“I wanted to be a part of the growth of this campus,” Nussbaum said. “It just seemed like a great opportunity to be a part of helping to grow this community.”

Individuals living in student housing will be required to purchase a meal plan, while voluntary meal plan options will be available for commuting students, faculty and staff. While meal plan costs are still being finalized, the cost per meal will range from $6.97 to $10.83 depending on the plan chosen. All meal plans will also give students the option to use dining dollars at retail restaurants in the USU and the on-campus Starbucks. Meal plans are expected to go on sale next spring.

“As a full-time commuter student, it is crucial to have access to quality dining services on campus because I am on campus five days a week and do not plan on leaving campus to find food elsewhere,” said Nicole Haining, a communication student.

Sustainability will be part of the mission of the café. Trayless dining will encourage visitors to take only what they can eat, preventing an estimated 75 pounds of food waste per person each year. Sodexo is exploring the feasibility of additional sustainable options, which may include reusable to-go containers and reusable service ware to cut down on waste associated with paper and plastic products.

The dining café will also provide additional on-campus employment opportunities for students. Nussbaum said 69% of workers in the USU retail food restaurants are students, and he anticipates a similar high percentage of student employees for the café. Details on applying for jobs at the café will be available closer to the opening.

Malik Ismail, director of Housing and Residential Education, notes that as the university looks to add housing, it is expected to be built as a more traditional residence rather than apartment-style living, another reason why a dining café is so important.

“Building out this dining facility, we’re also planning for the future,” Ismail said. “Looking at the growth of the campus and the growth of our housing inventory, having a dining facility makes sense for us.”

Ismail said the new café will be especially helpful for first-year students getting acclimated to the rigors of college and living on their own. They won’t have to worry about trips to the grocery store, not to mention cooking, cleaning and potential food waste.

“The adjustment into college life can be hard, and sometimes it’s difficult to fit a healthy meal plan into your schedule,” said Sierra Julian, a second-year student and member of the CSUSM women’s track and field team. “I know last year my roommates and I never had proper dinners or lunches. Especially as student-athletes, it’s important to have three meals a day and to eat nutritious meals in order to perform our best. It’s difficult to squeeze those in between class, practice and work. Having a dining hall option will make it easier for all of us to eat in between classes or before practice.”

The dining café has also piqued the interest of international students, some of whom have dietary restrictions.

Muhammad Zain Keen is studying at CSUSM as part of the Global Undergraduate Exchange Program in Pakistan, which provides youth leaders from across Pakistan the opportunity to attend American universities and colleges for non-degree academic study. Muhammad noted the importance of vegetarian options.

“I think the dining hall will be the best option for us,” Muhammad said. “As an international student, it is hard for me to bring in groceries and then cook it. The dining hall will be beneficial for international students and first-year students to get a nutritious meal while adjusting to the new school environment.”

The café is being designed with a mixed seating style to accommodate everyone from a student who might want to sit alone while studying to larger groups. Nussbaum is particularly excited about the street-side dining, which is something he hasn’t seen at other universities in nearly two decades with Sodexo.

“We have a unique opportunity to do a lot of great things that I don't think anybody else can do because of our location,” he said. “We’re right on a street showing off to the community what we are doing for the students.”

Media Contact

Eric Breier, Public Affairs Specialist

ebreier@csusm.edu | Office: 760-750-7314