Restaurants planned for Diddle

Adriane Hardin

Hilltopper fans may be bombarded with the smells of baking bread, hot coffee and sizzling pizza as they enter Diddle Arena in March.

But if all goes as planned, those aromas won’t be wafting over from Downing University Center.

Dining services hopes to have Subway, Starbucks, Pizza Hut, a grill restaurant similar to Grille Works and new concession stands by March 6, the opening day of the Sun Belt Conference Tournament. The new dining options are a part of the Diddle Arena renovation.

“Diddle is gonna have a lot more variety than what they use to have,” said Barry Wells, senior Food Service director. “People are really gonna be surprised at the transformation once this is all done.”

The concessions on the first floor will be located in the Hall of Champions area that was formerly the swimming pool. There will be a Starbucks Express, Subway Express, Pizza Hut Express, a concession stand and a full-service kitchen.

The second floor, where the athletics offices were once located, will now house a grill area, a Pizza Hut and another concession stand.

The menus for Subway, Starbucks and Pizza Hut will be slightly different from their counterparts in DUC.

“The Subway we are putting in is gonna have a limited sandwich concept,” Wells said. “There won’t be any hot sandwiches.”

Pizza Hut will sell pizza by the slice and Starbucks will have a 10-drink menu.

These limited menus are a result of dining service’s need for speed. Wells said they wanted to use restaurants that didn’t require people to stand around and wait on food. Most of the restaurants will have prepackaged food ready for fans.

“We need to provide the highest quality food possible, and I think branded concepts like Starbucks and Pizza Hut within athletic menus are very popular,” Athletics Director Wood Selig said.

Dining services chose these specific dining options based on the success of other institutions’ arenas as well as the restaurants’ performance on campus.

Subway, for example, has always been a big hit on campus, Wells said.

The full-service kitchen on the second floor will also give Western more opportunities to host and cater events. Diddle could be rented out for Corvette shows or basketball tournaments. Depending upon the hours, Western will now be able to offer full-service meals when a group requests them for an event. This allows Western to generate money to pay the bill for the renovation project. University events will have top priority when it comes to the use of Diddle arena, said Rob Chrisler, Auxiliary Services director.

Selig said that he expected the new services to be a huge success.

“Everything we’ve done with Diddle Arena has been with an eye on spectator enjoyment and enhancing our fan experience,” he said. “We want to ensure that every second of their (the fans) experience is first class.”

Reach Adriane Hardin at [email protected]