Market Square faces growing campus population and food demands

Students explore dining options including a pizza station, sandwich station, salad bar, and more inside the market square. (Kyla Vogel / TCU 360).

While the number of students looking for a meal has increased by around 4.9%, along with the increase in dietary demands, concerns and preferences, TCU’s only all-you-can-eat facility has changed little since. its opening in 2008.

The layout of the marketplace remains “true to the day it was built,” said Miles Oller, deputy facilities manager at Housing & Residence Life.

As TCU grows, there are concerns that Market Square has not been able to keep pace.

The dining room has a limited number of catering stations, so there is no way to guarantee against cross contamination in the kitchen. In addition, the number of seats is limited.

The convenience of Market Square, which is located in the Brown-Lupton University Union (BLUU), means some students depend on it despite food allergies.

Travis Bailey, a junior accounting graduate, said he ate there in first grade even though he had a nut allergy.

“I probably would have had more options and felt more comfortable not eating in Market Square, but living in the Commons makes you want to grab something quick and easy,” Bailey said. “I just had to be careful. Basically, I ate safe stuff over and over again to be safe.

Right next to the university residences, Market Square is also the primary eating spot for freshmen, but some say they have to go elsewhere due to food issues.

Magnolia is in the King Family Commons building. (Kathryn Lewis / TCU360)

Sarah Taylor, a first-year kinesiology major, said she’s a vegetarian and often struggles to find dining options in Market Square, so she heads to the King Family Commons instead.

Located in the middle of Worth Hills, the King Family Commons opened in January 2015 to take some of the pressure off Market Square and was also designed with food allergy-free cuisine.

Magnolia’s serves dishes free of soy, wheat, gluten, eggs, dairy, shellfish, tree nuts and peanuts.

TCU Dining chief executive Scott Majestic said the changes to the meal plan also gave students options outside of Market Square.

“We still operate in the same space for the most part,” said Majestic.

As TCU approaches a total of 12,000 registrations, there is talk of renovating the marketplace. The last upgrade took place in 2019 and included new furniture and rugs, as well as the removal of the stands.

The number of freshmen looking for a meal has increased by 57% since the dining hall opened in 2008.

Oller said expansion plans are underway.

“We would like the market place to be renovated by the fall of 2023,” he said. “It’s a goal”

Read more: TCU under pressure to find housing solutions

Oller said the university collects essential data to find out what students want, which can affect the completion date.

“It will be difficult to understand what we’re doing… we’re limited in this space,” said Craig Allen, director of Housing & Residence Life.

Allen said the goal of the expansion is to increase seating and food options.

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