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Clemson to begin Fernow Café renovations soon

Clemson students will still be able to get their fill of waffle fries and Skittles next fall, but it will come at a price: fewer burgers, pizzas and deli sandwiches.
That’s the upshot of plans to move the Chick-fil-A, now in the underused University Union, into the Fernow Street Café, along with a new P.O.D. store. Those outlets will replace the Burger Studio, Papa John’s and Boar’s Head Deli shop currently in Fernow.
The renovations are scheduled to begin May 6 and will last 80 days, said project manager Phillip Addington. The design plans have all been finalized, and stay fairly true to the café’s current look.
“The only thing that’s really going to change is the venue,” Addington said. “[We will have] the self-serving P.O.D. on the left side, and on the right side it will be just like a Chick-fil-A that you would walk into.”
The intent is to create a more traditional dining experience, mirroring the service customers receive at a regular off-campus restaurant.
Addington described the project as a response to the closing of Harcombe  Dining Hall this past fall. It reduced student activity in that area, making it less desirable to keep the Chick-fil-A in the University Union.
Although specific plans have not been made yet with respect to the Union, its demolition is under consideration, Clemson University Director of Maintenance Anthony Harvey said.
Addington described the Fernow Street Café project as a proactive measure in anticipation of the future teardown. Project managers do not want to have to worry about having to find a new place for the Chick-fil-A, one of the most popular dining options on campus, if and when the time comes.
Harvey also said that “central campus is a really good spot for it” because of the high amount of student traffic in that area.
Fernow is one of the twenty dining venues available to students on campus, and it is not new to the construction scene.     
In the summer of 2014, a similar project brought Papa John’s to the café. Originally, the popular pizza spot was at the East Side Food Court. As a part of this project, when Papa John’s moved out, a Panda Express was put in its place. Additions and subtractions like this are relatively common, as things are always being done to try to improve Clemson’s campus.
Housing and Dining will pay for expenses associated with the project, Harvey said, though the exact price is “still up in the air” depending on the bids placed by outside contractors. He estimates it will come in at approximately $750,000.
Another determining factor for the price is the contractor’s need for work. If they are greatly seeking employment, the cost will be lower, but if they are already booked for the summer, the cost will be higher.
The ultimate fate of the eateries currently housed at Fernow has not been decided, Harvey said. As of right now they will just be removed from the café and there are no immediate plans to relocate them. However, the university is open to the idea of bringing Burger Studio, Papa John’s or Boar’s Head Deli back, but in a different location.
Through web postings on, many students have expressed their concerns about the renovations. Some feel that they may have fewer options to choose from due to the removal of the venues currently at Fernow.         
One student commented,  “Hate to see them limiting choices like that–I understand the Chik-fil-A has to go somewhere, but I liked the diversity.”
Freshman Molly Park conveyed her concerns saying, “If they change it they have to keep the sushi. Also, being in architecture in Studio–which is in Lee Hall–24/7, I always love having a break eating there instead of the dining hall.”             
To others, because of their great love for Chick-fil-A, students are glad it will still find its home at Clemson.
Looking ahead, refer to Clemson Housing and Dining for more updates.

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