New restaurants to open in Johnson Center

Mason Dining is undergoing major changes this summer in preparation for the the fall semester (Photo courtesy of Mason Dining)
Mason Dining is undergoing major changes this summer in preparation for the the fall semester (Photo courtesy of Mason Dining)

Beginning this fall the Johnson Center will look a little different to returning students, as George Mason University Dining will open three new restaurants.

Among the new restaurants in the Johnson Center will be Red Hot & Blue, Hot Spot and a salad station. The name of the salad station is being voted for on Mason Dining’s Facebook page. As of July 2nd, “Garden Spot” is the top choice with 20 votes, followed by “Sprouts” and “Sea of Green.”

The salad station is part of an effort to increase the availability of healthy food on campus.

“The salad station is designed as a user friendly, quick-serve for healthy, nutritious greens,” said Ram Nabar the resident District Manager at Mason Dining. “We’ve heard the students have been asking for more nutritious food all around. This was definitely one of those things that would add a lot of value to the JC.”

Red Hot & Blue is a well-known barbeque restaurant with several locations in northern Virginia, including one in the city of Fairfax. Hot Spot opened in spring of 2012 and serves a different type of food each week.

Hot Spot will be moving from Student Union Building 1 to the Johnson Center.

“We are anticipating the higher demand [in the JC],” said Nabar. “On Facebook it [Hot Spot] was voted the best food on campus. It was really well received.”

Hot Spot will be moving from Student Union Building 1 to the Johnson Center and will have two lines in its new location for faster service.

Taco Bell will be moving from the Johnson Center, and opening a full service facility on the bottom floor of Student Union Building I. Chick-fil-A, also located in SUB 1, will be expanded.

“We’ve pretty much ripped everything and we’re starting again,” said Nabar.

Chick-fil-A will offer a wider range of options for students and according to Nabar there will eventually be milkshakes added.

Apart from the additions in the Johnson Center, University Hall will also undergo some changes. Panda Express recently opened in University Hall and Einstein Bagels will open this fall. There will also be another Einstein Bagels that will open in the Nguyen Engineering building this fall.

“Einstein Bagels will be a great addition to the university,” Nabar said.

Everlasting Life, an all vegan café, is also scheduled to open in University Hall. The project is still in design and at this time it is uncertain when it will open. Mason Dining will not run Everlasting Life Café or Panda Express.

Food Poisoning Incident Update

On June 21, students received an email advisory about a “food borne illness” that had spread among students who had been staging on campus for a summer program. About 40 students were affected, 14 of which were taken to an area hospital.

“As we understand it, it absolutely had nothing to do with our food,” explained Nabar. “The audits we do are very comprehensive. We are very confident in the safety of our food.”

Mason and Fairfax city officials collaborated to find the origin of the virus, and later concluded that the people infected had “contracted viral gastroenteritis that traveled from person to person,” according to a press release.

“We have laboratory evidence that confirms that the virus is norovirus,” said Glen Barber, the Public Information Officer for the Fairfax County Health Department. “Now that we know it’s norovirus, the investigative process will not change.”

Though the exact origin of the virus cannot be determined at this point, Barber said that the county Health Department is working in collaboration with other health departments in the capital region to uncover more information.

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