The basement of the Purdue Memorial Union might be filled with a host of different restaurants after construction is expected to begin later this year.

An email sent to employees at Harrison Grill outlines specific changes that might be coming to retail dining. The email says Purdue has chosen Aramark to operate its retail dining in all of its retail venues, including in some dorms.

Several new restaurants are reportedly coming to campus, according to the email: a Panera Bread and Qdoba in the new Meredith South Residence Hall, a Salad Works in the Stem Cafe, a Chick-fil-A and Jersey Mike's in Third Street North, and a Firehouse Subs in Gateway Cafe.

The Union basement may reopen Fall 2021 with East End Grill, People's Brewing Company and Walk On's Sport Bistreaux inside, the email says.

The Exponent reached out to Purdue spokesperson Tim Doty and a representative from Purdue's procurement services department for details Monday morning but has not heard back yet.

The original request for proposals was issued by Purdue on Nov. 1 and reveals a detailed plan for what the University hopes the Union's basement looks like in the years to come. The RFP says PMU renovations are expected to start on Sept. 1.

"The University’s vision for the PMU is an exciting, open, active space that draws people in both for the quality of the food and the atmosphere," the request reads. "Local or regional brand offerings (West Lafayette, Indianapolis, Chicago), farm-to-table concepts and fresh, cutting-edge concepts at reasonable prices are preferred. An institutional approach with national brands is not preferred."

The document outlines two scopes for which interested parties could submit proposals: a "full-scope" plan of renovating more 30 retail locations on campus, and/or a smaller plan of renovating the 11 retail spots in the PMU.

This includes Pappy's Sweet Shop, though the RFP clarifies that Purdue hopes to keep Pappy's.

"The University would like to retain Pappy’s Sweet Shop," it reads, "but is open to the Respondent’s ideas to refresh or modernize the space and concept."

The document similarly notes that Purdue wants to keep the 1869 Tap Room but is open to ideas that might improve its operations. 

In 2019, Pappy's made $1,657,639, according to the RFP. The 1869 Tap Room brought in $67,658 the same year.

For dining locations like Flatbreads, Oasis and other eateries in the Union basement, the RFP says the chosen company, Aramark, according to the email, must develop replacement concepts that are new to the University. The same is required for retail locations in new residence hall Meredith South and Gateway Cafe.

Companies submitting proposals were told to assume a term of 20 years for the contract. 

As for University employees who already work for Purdue's retail locations, an FAQ attached to the RFP sheds more light on their futures with Purdue. The FAQ specifies that all current University dining employees at the in-scope locations must be offered employment by the successful bidder at comparable pay and benefits.

Doty did not immediately respond when asked what would happen to current retail dining employees.

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