Fresh food facelift at the Hub

Photo: Robert Liwanag

Photo: Robert Liwanag

If you’ve walked through Jorgenson Hall recently, chances are you’ve seen the renovated Hub Café. Opened on Oct. 6, it’s Ryerson’s alternative to the vast array of fast food chains and cheap restaurants around campus. The new Hub’s sleek design – predominantly made up of blacks and woods – and lively atmosphere make it feel seemingly out of place against the fairly nondescript Jorgenson Hall, but that’s the point. The university spent approximately $840,000 in renovations, and months working on the updated menu. In other words, it’s supposed to stand out.

A lot of that has to do with the Hub Café’s focus on seasonal, locally grown ingredients. “Our job as a campus food service is to nourish and support the Ryerson community as it continues to push the boundaries of innovation, collaboration and creativity,” reads a sign at the entrance, a quote from Joshna Maharaj, Ryerson’s Assistant Director of Food Services and Executive Chef, who first gained recognition for her campaign to improve the quality of meals in Scarborough General Hospital in 2011 and 2012. There’s even a tribute to Alice Waters, the California-based restaurateur regarded as a pioneer of the organic food movement, on one of the walls.

New additions to the Hub are its “stations”, consisting of Greens and Grains, Sandwich and BYOB (Build Your Own Bowl). The latter is particularly popular, as customers can choose from a variety of vegetables, rice, noodles and sauces, with the meals being made to order and topped with cheese. These $7 bowls are perfect for vegetarians looking for a bargain on campus, and even better for curious students looking to start eating healthy. In fact, much of what is offered is vegetable-based.

Photo: Robert Liwanag

Photo: Robert Liwanag

Photo: Robert Liwanag

Photo: Robert Liwanag

The café also offers a wide selection of sweet and savoury snacks. There are a variety of products from Toronto-based bakery, Sweets from the Earth, including caramel almond shortbread and oatmeal raisin cookies, which are both sweet without being overpowering. If amazing taste isn’t enough, all Sweets from the Earth products are 100 per cent vegan and preservative free.

The Hub Café may even give Metro a run for its money. Sushi, chilled beverages and a variety of reasonably priced, ready-made salads are also being sold (the gluten-free chicken BLT salad, for instance, runs for $6.75). That might seem a bit steep for vegetables, but you can easily taste the difference in quality. And of course, the Hub Café also features a Tim Horton’s.
“I’m not sure if all that money was worth it, or if students even know how much it cost, but that doesn’t matter because the people seem to enjoy it,” said Eeshmam Munir, a third-year Business Management student. “If it’s a good price and it’s the healthier option, people will always come back for more.”

The Hub Café is the culmination of Ryerson Eats’ campaign to combine fresh and sustainable ingredients with friendly prices, while showcasing local producers. But unlike the Ryerson Farmers’ Market, which ended on Oct. 8 and was held every Wednesday, the options from the Hub Café will be available throughout the school year.

Its grand opening is on Nov. 5 with speeches from Ryerson president Sheldon Levy, vice president Julia Hanigsberg and Maharaj, as well as a ribbon cutting and unveiling of the full menu.