The Crossroads Culinary Center at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York (UB), is a remarkable new dining experience for students and Rich’s pizza creations are positioned at the forefront of this fresh, market-style eatery. Rich’s perfected the thin crust, New York-style pizza students crave and now thousands of authentic, made-to-order pies are being dished-up daily to the mouthwatering delight of these Buffalo-based students with Big Apple taste buds.
After four years of research, design, planning and partnering with food industry experts, the 34,000 square-foot Crossroads Culinary Center (C3) is ranked #1 in dining services for SUNY University Centers.
UB’s culinary vision was simple: create an interactive dining experience where high-quality food is prepared fresh, right in front of the students. The back-of-house operations were eliminated, bringing all the work out in the open, showing-off the chef’s skills and engaging the students, making them a part of the dining experience.
“UB’s Crossroads Culinary Center delivers the WOW-factor on all fronts,” said Mike Joseph, National Accounts Culinary Manager. “They’ve nailed everything from the ambiance and the experience to the quality and freshness of the food concepts offered.”
Pizza will always be a mainstay in student cuisine, and after working with Rich’s culinarians and products for many years UB challenged Rich’s to develop a thin-crust pizza authentic enough to please a true New Yorker’s palate.
“Nearly 35% of our students are from New York and Long Island, so we wanted the product to meet their expectations for pizzeria quality pizza,” said Jeff Brady, Executive Director, UB Campus Dining & Shops. “We asked for authentic New York-style thin-crust pizza and Rich’s delivered. We were totally impressed. They got the crust right, they got the thinness down, and they delivered a great taste profile and a great presentation.”
In December, 2012, UB tested the pizza concept with students, going up against a dining hall favorite, steak night.
“Our students were totally wowed,” said Brady. “We knew we’d hit a home run. The students loved the flavor palate, the presentation, the spice mix, and the overall taste.”
UB then commissioned Rich’s to create a menu for the entire Baked Creations station. Rich’s chef, Mike Joseph, and broker rep, Gary Plant, Infusion Sales Group, worked together to create 12 to 15 varieties of specialty pizzas using Rich’s 7” sheeted pizza dough rolled-out to 10” for an authentic thin-crust pizza. They developed a unique sauce blend for the station and answered UB’s request for an entirely new handheld pizza concept.
“Not only did our partners deliver exciting new pizza concepts and recipes backed by extraordinary customer and product knowledge, Rich’s and Infusion were instrumental in training our staff and launching the station,” said Brady. “They supported our staff for two weeks while we kicked-off the center and they continue to visit regularly, ensuring we’re running smoothly and offering new concepts to keep things fresh.”
At the Baked Creations station, students can personalize their own pizza by picking any combination of sauces, toppings and flavors. Students enjoy interacting with the chefs and wait only three minutes for their made-to-order pie.
“UB has done an extraordinary job of bringing their C3 vision to life,” said Plant. “They’ve taken so much into consideration with this project. They’ve succeeded in creating an interactive, engaging, accessible dining experience that’s about fresh, quality, on-trend food in an exciting atmosphere.”
Throughout the opening month, the pizza station’s popularity was so vast that UB took time to expand the station during the holiday recess. Soon they’ll be offering focaccia, Stromboli and many other new menu items.
“This project is a shining example of operators, industry-experts and brokers working together toward a common goal,” said Joseph.
“The Crossroads Culinary Center is a huge success at UB,” said Brady. “Our customer satisfaction scores are through the roof and we’ve added 356 new meals plans since last semester. Our success is due in large part to the support, expertise and creativity of partners like Rich’s and Infusion.”