UTEP welcomes new Pick ‘N’ Shovel eatery

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Jonathon Duarte

A UTEP student orders at Pick N’ Shovel a new eatery located at the Union Building East .

Julia Hettiger, Staff Reporter

It is a known fact that everyone needs to eat in order to produce enough energy to carry them through their day. UTEP students, faculty and staff are no exception. The Union Building East now features the brand-new Pick ‘N’ Shovel eatery to satisfy their hunger.

The anticipated buffet-style eatery is now open, joining the likes of Pizza Hut and Chick-fil-A in the second floor of Union Building East. With prices ranging between $6 to $9, everyone can enjoy unlimited food and all-day breakfast. The cuisine served ranges from Mexican food and hamburgers, to a fully equipped salad bar.

New meal plans for student and staff were also introduced for the first time in UTEP’s history, but any student is welcome to eat at the eatery.

Juan Rodriguez, retail manager at UTEP’s Food Services, said the first week was successful.

“We’re doing well, but it’s actually the opposite of how I imagined it,” Rodriguez said. “I expected or thought we were only going to get people who have a meal plan, but we’ve had lots of walk-ins including faculty and staff.”

Because of the unexpectedly higher number of walk-ins, Pick ‘N’ Shovel has been selling more meals than planned.

“We sold 200 meal plans, so we planned for about 400 meals a day, but we are averaging 900 breakfast, lunch and dinner meals served daily,” Rodriguez said.

Since it’s opening, Rodriguez said they encountered a few minor issues before receiving help from some of the visiting football players.

“Some students were leaving their used plates behind and the football players would let them know there’s a place for them, so they’ve been a big help,” Rodriguez said. “Overall, it’s looking good.”

Elizabeth Martinez, freshman civil engineering major, said she has really enjoyed the new eatery so far.

“I love it,” Martinez said. “They serve everything from Mexican food to your basic burgers and chicken burgers.”

As a student who lives on campus, Martinez eats at the eatery often and has been impressed with their number of choices.

“I’ve eaten here 10 times, and they have a great variety,” Martinez said. “My favorite thing is their huevos rancheros or eggs with cheese and salsa, because I thought I would lose it when I left home, so I’m glad they have it.”

Although there is no specific schedule for when different kinds of food are served, Pick ‘N’ Shovel plans on changing it up every day.

“We plan to rotate the menu as often as possible,” Rodriguez said. “We are also working with UTEP’s Technology Support to create something that will help us create the menu in advance and post it online.”

Toriell Simon, junior accounting major, said although he does not live on campus, he enjoys dining at the eatery frequently

“It’s cool because it’s an all-day serving and they have waffles, cookies, a salad bar, sandwich maker and you can make Panini’s too,” Simon said. “They always have different foods and I really think it’s going to work out.”

As of right now, visitors cannot take their food to go, but Rodriguez said they’re working on something to possibly change that.

“We’re looking at something similar to the Simply2Go that they serve next door, so food can be taken to go,” Rodriguez said.

The Pick ‘N’ Shovel Eatery is the first of its kind at UTEP, so there are no numbers or history to base current achievements on. They are looking at what students have to say to monitor their success.

“We don’t have much to base our findings on,” Rodriguez said. “Right now, we’re open to feedback so we can continue to improve our services.”

The Pick ‘N’ Shovel Eatery is open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call 747-7460.

Julia Hettiger may be reached at [email protected]