On campus, a shift to storefronts

Several new storefront food options have popped up around Main Campus.

True to its commuter school roots, Temple has a long history of on-the-go food options like food trucks and The Wall — the cemented food court near Anderson Hall. Recently, new storefronts that offer takeout like honeygrow, Insomnia Cookies and Blaze Pizza have increased the access to food on Main Campus.

Unlike food court options at the Student Center and Morgan Hall, the new storefronts around campus don’t take student meal plans.Like food trucks, they provide easy lunch options for students between classes.

For students like Niki Green, a senior architecture major, the new storefronts are convenient for eating on campus without a meal plan.

“I’ve never had a meal plan,” she said. “I transferred in so it was nice to have real options for food on campus immediately.”

Honeygrow, which was founded by Temple alumnus Justin Rosenberg in 2012, opened its Temple location on Sept. 19.

Jen Denis, the chief brand officer at honeygrow, said the company saw a need for more permanent food options on campus.

“From what I’ve observed, it seems like for a heavily collegiate-populated area it has a lot of year-round students and faculty,” Denis said. “So unlike other college campuses when it totally dies off in the off-season, there’s still a vibrant North Philly community that keeps all of the businesses there alive and well.”

“What is great about college campus locations is the amount of busy periods we have is more consistent because students get out of class at all different times,” she added. “Students have long days and long nights so they’re hungry. We can serve them at any time of night or day, not just lunch or just dinner.”

Insomnia Cookies’, honeygrow’s neighbor, moved from their old food truck location on Montgomery Street near 13th to its new permanent storefront on Aug. 10.

Courtney Altamura, senior marketing manager for Insomnia Cookies, said Morgan Hall seemed like a “good central location” due to its proximity to Main Campus and the Cecil B. Moore subway station. She said the new location means a larger staff and a larger menu, featuring products Insomnia fans may be familiar with from the Center City location that weren’t on the truck’s menu.

“We had been looking for some time for a permanent retail location near Temple’s campus because with the food truck we had limited hours and didn’t offer full products that other locations had,” Altamura said. “Now we are able to have ice cream, cookie cakes and are definitely able to be more efficient with our deliveries.”

But for Johny Thai, the owner and manager of Orient Express on The Wall, the new storefronts may threaten his 25-year-old business.

Thai said Orient Express opened on Main Campus in 1991, but moved to The Wall in 1995. He said there were very few food trucks on campus when he first started his business.

“With not that many trucks around us or not that many restaurants around here, we did very good,” he said. “It’s been a couple years now where it’s started to go downhill.”

Thai said competition with the food trucks is difficult because there are so many of them and they don’t have to pay real estate taxes like he does for his spot at The Wall. He said the new storefronts have started to affect his business.

“It’s down a little bit. It’s still okay,” he said. “We can pay, we can work.”

Nazim Shega, who has run Brother’s Pizza Truck on 12th Street near Norris for 10 years, said he doesn’t mind the competition with storefronts.

“[People] still come,” he said. “It’s not the same amount of people, but they still come. I don’t have negative feelings about nobody, but it’s just competition.”

Gabriel Elko, an employee at The Creperie truck, said he doesn’t feel too much competition from the new storefronts on campus.

“I’ve noticed the storefronts being there, but I wouldn’t say it’s affecting us so much,” he said. “I think we’re established enough. We’ve been here for 14 years. We have a bit of a reputation too so I think that helps.”

“I think it helps that we’re near Tyler, we have a lot of good foot traffic,” he added. “I also think the Chipotle and the honeygrow, they’re a little off the beaten path in my opinion. I think we’re more focused towards closer center Temple so I think that does help us.”

Glynnis Cowley, a senior theater major who frequents food trucks, agrees with Elko.

“I think [the storefronts are] good,” she said. “I literally never think about the ones in The View, though. I just don’t ever go there so I guess they’re good for people who live there and are around there often, otherwise I like stick to food trucks mostly.”

“Food trucks can kind of haggle, like you see the halal trucks kind of fighting over sometimes. If one raises their price a dollar, no one goes there anymore,” Green said. “I think there’s like a functioning self-sufficient food truck ecosystem happening.”

Although many students like Green and Cowley mostly stick to food trucks, some students, like Sydney Read, a freshman art history major, think there’s room for all the different food options on campus.

“I feel like [storefronts] are for if you have more time, but if you’re on-the-go then you go to the other ones,” Read said.

But for storefronts like honeygrow, the new locations on campus were the natural next step.

“It just feels like homecoming for us to come to Temple’s campus and have our 10th location right there in the heart of the new Morgan Hall,” Denis said.

Erin Moran can be reached at erin.moran@temple.edu.

Emily Scott and Grace Shallow contributed reporting.

Editor’s note: Glynnis Cowley wrote an article for The Temple News in 2014. She had no part in the writing or editing of this article.

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