Students enjoy the food and sunshine at Pop-Up Eats on April 4, 2023.

Pop-Up Eats Debuts at UR

April 13, 2023

Dining Services initiative to revive and evolve pre-COVID special events that foster community through food debuts on campus

On an unseasonably warm Tuesday in February, a food truck pulled onto campus and parked on the University Forum. Within two hours, the truck was decked out with Western décor and ready to serve its first order: chili cheese fries. This marked the official start of Pop-Up Eats, a Dining Services initiative to revive and evolve pre-COVID special events that foster community through food.

Assistant Directors of Retail Operations Debbie Balducci and Jeff Smith, Executive Chef Tyler Betzhold, and Organic Krush Manager Rachel Singer collaborated with local food vendor Performance Food Group (PFG) to create a unique, seasonal, satisfying, competitively priced menu. In case of winter weather, they settled on a smoky beef chili, a spicy vegan chili, hand-cut fries, and an assortment of toppings including cheese sauce, scallions, and lime crema served to order in any combination desired.

“This is a fun event for everyone. The culinary side of the house can showcase their creativity and interact with students in a different environment,” said Executive Director of Dining Services Terry Baker. “It is also a great opportunity for us to surprise students and offer new dishes they can’t get anywhere else on campus.”

A second Pop-Up Eats event was held on April 4 and was just as successful as the first. The campus community enjoyed a menu of sliders, petite pomme frites, and limeade. The popular crab cake sliders sold out first, followed by the Cajun chicken salad and the pomme frites.

While Pop-Up Eats is sponsored by the retail side of Dining Services, the events are collaborative from planning to execution. Employees from catering, residential dining, and retail units participate in food preparation and staff the event. Dining Services also works with the Office for Sustainability and ReThink Waste to utilize and promote the compostable Pop-Up Eats food packaging and utensils.

“We have a lot of ideas for future Pop-Up Eats menus and have heard from students as well,” said Jeff Smith. “We plan to work with PFG again next semester to build on the success of these first two events.”

  Pop-Up Eats accepts Spider Card, Dining Dollars, and debit/credit cards and will return during the fall semester. Follow @URDining social media accounts and be the first to know the Pop-Up Eats date, time, location, and menu. Don’t miss out on food you can’t find anywhere else on campus!