Campus welcomes In-N-Out, Panda Express as new food options for students

Sarah Philips

With summer coming to a close, a wave of UT students and their fast food-eating habits are descending upon campus to new eateries like In-N-Out and Panda Express.  

The Taco Bell previously located in the Student Union did not renew its contract with Aramark, the food service company partnered with University Unions last year. Aramark negotiated a contract with Panda Express to fill the opening after taking recommendations from the Texas Union board.

James Buckley, director of facilities and operations at the Texas Union, said the restaurant will be open for students when classes begin this week. 

Panda Express will have the full menu frequent visitors are accustomed to, along with a bonus a tea bar, which is not standard for Panda Express restaurants in this part of the country.

According to their website, a Panda Express tea bar includes an assortment of drinks including fruit-infused teas, lemonade teas, milk teas, smoothies, coffee and shakes. The tea bar is also taking on the boba tea phenomenon by advertising an option to add honey boba and jellies to a drink.

Students can expect more changes in food options this semester. According to Buckley, a plan to bring new food to the Union is in the works. 

“The I’s aren’t dotted, and the T’s aren’t crossed, so I can’t say anything yet,” Buckley said. “But I think the students will like the upcoming planned changes.”

Buckley said he couldn’t go into more detail until later in the semester but did mention that the new options might replace restaurants that are currently established in the Union. 

Panda Express will join restaurants such as Chick-fil-A, Field of Greens, Smokehouse BBQ, Quizno’s Subs and Wendy’s. Of these establishments, Wendy’s is the only one not contracted by Aramark.

On the Drag, In-N-Out will be making its way near campus with Austin’s sixth location of the California-based burger joint. 

Famous for its animal-style burgers, fries and shakes, the In-N-Out will replace the Burger King on Guadalupe that had serviced UT students for years. 

Advertising freshman Riya Ashok said the new In-N-Out will be a good option to eat with her friends.

“I’m excited to have an In-N-Out on campus because it’s a great place to spend time with friends, and it has fresher food than most other burger places,” Ashok said.

Psychology freshman Henry Youtt said he doesn’t see either Panda Express or In-N-Out as an option for himself. Neither of the new restaurants have great choices for his vegetarian diet.

“Since I don’t eat meat, I probably won’t go out of my way to pick up orange chicken or a cheeseburger anytime soon,” Youtt said. “I wish there were more places around campus that gave real nutritious
vegetarian options so I wouldn’t have to settle for french fries.”

Dejuanna Harmon, senior marketing coordinator for In-N-Out, says the company does not know when the new restaurant will open. 

“Because of city ordinances and regulations, it is possible we will not know the exact date until the week before,” Harmon said. 

In-N-Out will be on the same street as another burger restaurant, Symon’s Burger Joint. When approached to see what effect the new In-N-Out could have on the counter-only, popular burger joint, a manager at Symon’s said they had no comment at this time.