A whole afternoon of food and celebration filled the Arts, Research and Culture House on Thursday. Activities were scheduled from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. for the ARCH Open House, with events ranging from free samples from the new Tortas Fronteras cafe to a short speech by Penn President Amy Gutmann. The Daily Pennsylvanian took a look at some highlights of the building’s grand opening.
Renowned chef Rick Bayless, who won season one of “Top Chef Masters,” was at the ARCH to celebrate the opening of his latest venture, Tortas Fronteras.
The cafe, located on the first floor of the ARCH, will serve traditional Mexican specialties focusing on tortas, or Mexican sandwiches.
“We’re trying to offer to people a different way to experience Mexican food,” Bayless said. He emphasized the food will be “really real” — referring to his company’s commitment to freshness by sourcing local ingredients as much as possible.
This philosophy aligned perfectly with that of Bon Appetit Management Company that provides food services for Penn Dining. CEO Fedele Bauccio, who also attended the ARCH event, also described his commitment to local ingredients and sustainability.
The menu of Tortas Fronteras, which will officially open on Tuesday, includes items like egg breakfast sandwiches with a Mexican twist, a guacamole bar where students can customize their guacamole with toppings such as sun-dried tomatoes and bacon and Rival Bros. coffee.
Free samples of the cafe’s menu were handed out all afternoon, with people of all ages lining up around the cafe to try items such as the chips and guacamole.
Overall, students enjoyed the offerings, with many expressing eager interest in coming back once the cafe is officially open.
“It’s even better than I expected,” Engineering sophomore Jessica Hasson said.
The ARCH Express, a “grab and go” station in the ARCH similar to Hemispheres in Houston Market, is still under construction and will open soon.
‘Welcome, welcome home’
”The ARCH positively pulses with the vision of Penn life,” Gutmann said in her opening remarks.
Gutmann also thanked David and Melissa Raso, who were in attendance on Thursday. The Raso family’s $1.5 million gift created the DiLorenzo Lounge on the first floor by the main entrance, named after David’s grandfather, John.
She ended by celebrating the diversity and spirit of Penn that is expressed in the ARCH. “The heart of Penn is back, stronger than ever before in Penn’s history.”
Vice Provost for University Life Valarie Swain-Cade McCoullum made closing remarks at the ceremony. “The ARCH will fuel your aspirations,” she said. “Welcome, welcome home.”
A blessed new home
After the ceremony, the Penn Hawaii Club passed out leis to the crowd in the DiLorenzo Lobby, as a symbol of “aloha” — which, aside from a greeting, also conveys love and affection.
University Chaplain Chaz Howard stepped up for a short speech, acknowledging that recently, it has been a hard few weeks on campus. But with the ARCH, “it’s nice to celebrate a new beginning,” he said.
Howard, with the accompaniment of a drum, then invited the crowd to gather in a rough circle and link hands as he blessed the building.
Occupants of the ARCH also hosted celebrations to promote their work in their new home.
CURF sponsored a research poster symposium in the Fireside Lounge all afternoon. Cultural centers Makuu, La Casa Latina and the Pan-Asian American Community House hosted a “Treasure SeARCH” scavenger hunt throughout the building with the winners receiving prizes.
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