USF Tampa launches Local Restaurants Row to feature women- and minority-owned businesses

inside a food court. A green neon sign has the symbol of a bull on the top

The University of South Florida is an incubator for ingenuity. The gorgeous campus is replete with top level amenities, next level academic resources, and even a class concert and live events venue. The food court is now home to Local Restaurant Row (LRR) according to a release from the University’s Campus Life team. Today, three on-trend restaurants operate in LRR, and each meets Aarmark’s (the university’s food service partner) and USF’s rigorous standards. In addition to providing a great opportunity to hone their craft, being a part of LRR provides caterers, chefs, and restaurateurs major exposure to a huge local audience.

“Local Restaurant Row provides opportunities for local small businesses to really find a voice in the community and be able to utilize a huge community like USF to advertise for their restaurant concept and food,” said Jessica Cicalese, marketing director for USF Dining Services.

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Local Restaurants Row transforms USF’s food court

The program is the brainchild of Philadelphia-based Aramark, and brings minority- and women-owned vendors to client locations within higher education, health care and corporate dining. USF Dining works with the USF Office of Supplier Diversity to help foster an inclusive supply chain, identifying on-trend businesses with the ability to integrate into a variety of different environments. Since the spring, diners have been able to enjoy Diggy Dogs hot dogs, Tanya and Matt’s Ice Creamiest ice cream and Louisiana-inspired cuisine by Livy O’s Catering.

The 813 Eats storefront allows USF Dining to feature the program’s participating restaurants in a similar fashion to the rest of the food court’s national brands, with customized signage and a digital menu board for each new vendor. LRR is designed to take many shapes and forms. If a featured concept’s menu offering is better suited for a food cart or food truck, that can be brought to life on campus as well. 

Similar opportunities are abounding on USF’s St. Petersburg campus. Kahwa Coffee, a brand with brick-and-mortar locations across the region just opened within 727 Eats on that campus.

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