Two “bridges” now sit along Locust Walk.
The Bridge Café, which replaced Au Bon Pain over the summer and is located on the ground floor of Huntsman Hall, opened officially to the Penn community Wednesday.
The cafe is run by Heathland Hospitality Group and offers a mix of cold sandwiches, salads and a hot food and coffee section.
In addition to The Bridge Café, Heathland operates two additional locations inside Huntsman — the Wharton Express grab-and-go option downstairs and Plaza Café in the MBA lounge, which offers similar items to The Bridge Café.
Director of Business Services for Conference and Dining Pamela Lampitt cited authenticity and flexibility as two of the reasons Heathland Hospitality Group was selected to replace ABP, which had been on campus for 10 years.
Lampitt added that the changes in food selection were made in response to student feedback.
“What we heard from faculty and students is that for a lot of students, this may be their one really great meal of the day, and they didn’t just want a scone,” Lampitt said. “They wanted something more hearty.”
Heathland Hospitality Group also runs cafés at the School of Dental Medicine and Temple University.
Penn decided to contract with the company following a bidding process that narrowed the selection down to several finalists. It then used taste tests and focus groups to determine which group offered the best food, Lampitt said.
President of Heathland Hospitality Group Bob Wurtz emphasized the company’s focus on locally produced, fresh ingredients, which he said is reflected in the real eggs used in the kitchen and the homemade dressings available.
“One of the biggest reasons to come and try us is the quality of food,” Wurtz said. “It truly sets us apart.”
Since the cafe’s soft opening last week and its official opening yesterday, students have given mixed reactions to its offerings.
Some, like Wharton senior Brooke Coloma, welcomed the cafe’s arrival.
“ABP was always packed,” Coloma said. “This looks like someone actually put some thought into planning what the cafe should look like.”
Wharton junior Sara Sodine agreed that the cafe looked “bigger and more welcoming.”
However, Engineering sophomore Paul Le Ster thinks the elimination of a baked goods section — which was present in ABP — is one of The Bridge Café’s shortcomings.
“This croissant is actually the worst croissant I’ve ever had,” Le Ster said. “You can’t really eat their hot food boxes in class. I don’t think this is an improvement on ABP.”
Second-year MBA student TJ Lim, who was waiting in line for a hot breakfast Wednesday morning, had mixed feelings about the cafe.
“I have been waiting for quite a while. I think it is suffering from growing pains,” Lim said. “But I’m glad they have expanded their food selection.”