The few times when students get to scarf down ingredients such as specialty prosciutto, Genoa salami, savory roast beef or house roasted vegetables, they are home for break being a back-home-baller, they paid $16 at a pricey restaurant, or least likely of all, are an amazing chef.
Speed walking through the Hemmingson Center trying to make it from a Zoom class to an in-person class, you may just catch a glance at the new food option, HandCrafted. The new gourmet sandwich restaurant, which replaced Wolfgang Puck, opened on Jan. 11, and offers sandwiches which range from tame to strategically wild. There’s even the option to build your own sandwich for those who like to play it safe.
All on-campus restaurant concepts are mutually agreed upon by both Sodexo and the university. Last year, an in-person survey of several hundred students was conducted throughout campus at tabling events about what types of eateries students would like to see on campus. One of the top results was a higher-end sandwich location. Shortly after, HandCrafted was crafted.
“The name 'HandCrafted' speaks to the customization that our guests enjoy, and the artisan flavor profile along with the presentation,” said Lisa Ridgeway, marketing director of Sodexo at Gonzaga who assists in managing retail operations including HandCrafted.
Because this is a Sodexo and Gonzaga partnership, and not a national brand, opinions from the student body and local community are valued. Feedback will be used to adjust HandCrafted to meet GU expectations.
The concept of HandCrafted was developed by Sodexo’s chefs and innovators. Sodexo observed market trends and demographics, and developed HandCrafted based off of behaviors in segments they operate in such as universities, stadiums, arenas, corporate building restaurants and hospitals.
Although the change to sandwiches was not due to COVID-19, it has proven to be an appealing on-the-go meal; a COVID-19-friendly option for students.
“With very little seating available during COVID, it was essential to have something easy to transport to another location for consumption,” Ridgeway said.
There is not a sales goal or profit margin the restaurant needs to hit in order to stay, and no set duration of how long it will be in this location. The restaurant’s success will ultimately be measured by student satisfaction.
For HandCrafted, success comes in the form of long lines which snake the expanse of its designated barrier stanchions in Hemmingson at peak times in the day.
“We are thrilled with how this first weeks have gone, we are yielding very high student satisfaction and feedback for the new restaurant,” Ridgeway said. “Many have commented that they especially love the bread and the exciting ingredients.”
The unique flavor combos, filling size, and fancy ingredients which students wouldn’t typically own in their dorms or houses, have drawn in many students.
“I feel like everyone that has had it only has good things to say,” freshman Kate Anderson said. “I think that most students know about it, but I have come across a few who didn’t know it was there.”
Handcrafted employee Daniel Slone, who has worked with Sodexo for 1.5 years, values his interactions with students.
“It is a more personal experience at HandCrafted and I love getting to have small conversations with my customers,” Slone said. “I also have enjoyed learning how to open a new restaurant in this space from the ground up and to see how differently it can be set up versus that of Wolfgang Puck. Both have been great to work at but I really am enjoying HandCrafted and the experience I get to create for students."
The most popular menu items have included the Smoked Ham, Brie + Pear Baguette, California Turkey Club, Garlic Chicken Caesar on Ciabatta and the Build Your Own option.
Slone’s personal favorite sandwich is the Smoked Ham, Brie + Caramelized Pear on the baguette bread.
“It has ingredients that I never would have thought to combine but it makes for a really delicious sandwich with a unique flavor,” Slone said.
The Build your own option has also proven to be popular.
“I love the make-your-own sandwich with turkey, lettuce, cheese, and the pesto aioli, toasted,” Anderson said. “I love Handcrafted, it is such a great price and the food is amazing.”
The average price for a sandwich is $6.49 and there are sides and drink options available as well. Handcrafted is open from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. for lunch and 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for dinner.