Two new dining establishments opened Feb. 1 on the UNC Asheville campus. BowlLife, located in the Sherrill Center’s Wellness Café, and Absurd Bird, a “ghost kitchen” run out of Brown Hall.
BowlLife offers a variety of salads and grain bowls. Diners can choose between three signature bowls or build their own bowl, starting with a base such as romaine lettuce, spinach, kale, quinoa or farro and add various toppings and homemade dressings.
“It’s a really cool way to eat,” said Meghan Ibach, sustainability coordinator for UNCA Dining Services. “It’s very fresh, and we hope it’s very pleasing to a lot of people, because there’s just a lot of different kinds of choices that you have.”
Absurd Bird strictly offers online ordering and curbside pick-up outside of Brown Hall. Their menu is limited, consisting of chicken wings and homemade dressing.
“We wanted to keep it very simple,” Ibach said. “A limited menu that is just really good. You know, less is more, and focus on quality versus quantity.”
Absurd Bird offers a change UNCA Dining Services has made in response to COVID-19. They have also added more grab and go options across campus including at Highsmith, Roasted and The Down Under. They have also increased the number of meal equivalencies on each meal plan, allowing students to access more dining options across campus.
“We wanted to make sure people had other options, especially if the dining hall was at capacity, or if someone maybe didn’t feel as comfortable going into the dining hall as they did going into other locations,” Ibach said. “We really felt it was important to give students as many options around campus.”
They also reimplemented Food Truck Friday which brings a new local food truck to campus every Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Food trucks will be parked in the Reed Plaza outside of Brown Hall and will include past student favorites such as Cecilia’s Kitchen, Bun Intended and Root Down.
Two restaurants have closed their doors this semester due to COVID.
Rosetta’s decided not to return to campus, instead focusing on their business in downtown Asheville.
“We’re sad to see them go but wish them the very best this year and beyond,” Ibach said.
UNCA senior Meghan Wellman said she will surely miss them, stating that her best dining experience was at Rosetta’s.
“The food felt healthy and was always hot and delicious,” Wellman said.
Dining services decided to close Argo due to lack of business and poor student feedback during fall 2020.
“People weren’t on campus, and maybe whatever Argo offered didn’t attract enough people,” Ibach said.
Ibach does not know yet what will fill Argo’s place, but UNCA Dining Services will soon post surveys on their website and social media pages.
“We want to get the voice of the UNCA community,” Ibach said. “We always encourage ideas. The more specific students can be with what they want to see on campus, the better.”
Wellman said she believes UNCA should provide more diversity when it comes to campus dining, especially concerning dietary restrictions and health benefits.
“I usually feel like most of the food on campus is quite junk food-esque,” Wellman said.
The UNCA administration aims to include more diverse and healthier options as more restaurants open across campus, starting with BowlLife.
“What I love about it is, even if you get the grilled chicken, you’re getting only a portion of chicken mixed in with a bowl of lots of vegetables and grains, food that’s better for the planet and really good for our health,” Ibach said. “As a sustainability coordinator, I believe this is the kind of style of eating that our planet really needs.”