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Au Bon Pain Launched in Zesiger; Construction For Subway Begins

By MeiHsin Cheng

A new Au Bon Pain location opened at the Zesiger Sports and Fitness Center last Thursday, Jan. 18. Subway, a popular sandwich vendor, is set to open in the Student Center in September; renovations have begun at Lobdell Food Court on the second floor, according to Director of Campus Dining Richard D. Berlin III.

Plans for both the Subway and Au Bon Pain were first announced in May 2006.

“The initial reaction seems to be very good,” Berlin said of the Au Bon Pain. The Zesiger Center has been home to two other food vendors in the past, according to Berlin, though those two “didn’t work out.” Judging from the business that Au Bon Pain received on Thursday and Friday, Berlin said, it is getting “twice as much business as the other ones did.”

Au Bon Pain is still experimenting with its hours of operation, according to Berlin. “If there’s demand, they will be open as long as the [Zesiger] Center allows,” Berlin said. Currently, Au Bon Pain is open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. The vendor was also open last weekend, but the weekend schedule has not yet been worked out. Dining Marketing Specialist Anne W. Wilson said that the schedule will probably change once the spring term starts.

Having Au Bon Pain, which was interested in having a location on the MIT campus, was described by Berlin as a great opportunity for MIT. Au Bon Pain is “a solid brand, very popular in Kendall Square and Central Square,” Berlin said. The menu includes sandwiches, bagels, muffins, soups, salads, pastries, coffee, and other beverages, Wilson said.

According to Berlin, Au Bon Pain was placed in the Zesiger Center because a food service location was already available there.

Nina Kim ’09 said that the Au Bon Pain “is not necessary, but it would be nice after skating with your friends or working out to get something to eat on the spot.”

Lobdell undergoes changes

Construction for the new Subway, which began this week, “shouldn’t take more than three weeks,” Berlin said. Subway will be open from 7:30 a.m. until 11 p.m.

Based on a dining survey conducted last fall, Campus Dining is considering a Thai restaurant to occupy the fifth Lobdell location. Berlin is currently working with Chef Mai Phan on setting up the Thai location.

“I met [Phan] at a conference and she was very excited about working with us to set up a noodle restaurant,” Berlin said.

Phan owns Lemon Grass, a well-known Thai restaurant in Sacramento and writes a food column for the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Some students have been asking for a Starbucks in the Student Center,” Berlin said, but since there is already a Dunkin’ Donuts on the first floor of W20, “a lot more coffee stuff doesn’t seem like a good idea.”

Berlin does not have any definite plans for future dining projects yet. “It depends on how the campus demographics grow,” Berlin said. “We bring the food where the people are.”

He said he is considering expanding the Bio Cafe located in Building 68 once the Center for Cancer Research is built. The Center for Cancer Research will be located between the Ray and Maria Stata Center and Building 68. Replacing the Refresher Course deli, located in Building E52, is also a possibility, Berlin said, after the new Sloan School of Management building is completed.