The new spot on campus

Jessica Ferrer | Contributing Writer

It’s new, it’s healthy, it’s got local food and it’s here to stay. Look out, Hawk’s Nest, there’s a new restaurant in town, and it means business.

The Green Spot opened the second week of classes and is Hawk’s Nest’s newest addition to the fast food court style dining hall. It replaced Bamboo, a restaurant that served Asian cuisine. After conducting multiple online surveys that found that students were not happy with Bamboo, campus dining decided it was time to change it up.

Thus, The Green Spot was born.

Executive chef of campus dining Eric Huff was put in charge of creating a concept and menu for The Green Spot. Students were looking for a healthier option, and Chef Huff said that he already does a lot of meals with local food for the Chancellor, so he “piggybacked off of that.”

Working with local food isn’t so strange to Chef Huff. Growing up in Charleston, S.C. where there are many farmers’ markets, cooking with food from local growers was like an instinct.

“That was natural for me,” said Chef Huff.

What may have been natural for Chef Huff may not have been so natural for students. Students wanted a healthier option, and although Chef Huff cooks for the chancellor all of the time and the Board of Trustees, he knew he that students would be a much different clientele.

“My boss came up to me in the summer and said it was all on me,” said Chef Huff. “I was nervous.”

But after The Green Spot opened any feelings of anxiety were quickly put away.

“[There was one day] when The Green Spot had a line and no one else did,” said Chef Huff. Not only is there a line to prove that The Green Spot is successful, but there have also been many positive comments about The Green Spot on campus dining’s Facebook page.

“This is the first opportunity that we as students have had on campus to experience a great quality of food; as much as I love Chick-Fil-A and the Varsity Grill it’s nice to have a “healthy” option,” said junior Janelle Stiansen.

Stiansen said that her favorite menu item is the BLT. It’s a traditional BLT, but Chef Huff takes it up a notch by adding sugar-smacked bacon, giving the sandwich a sweet and salty flavor.

“The bacon adds so much to such a common sandwich,” said Stiansen.

The BLT and the sweet potato fries are currently the most popular items at The Green Spot. Chef Huff said that they can’t keep [the sweet potato fries] in stock. Chef Huff’s favorite item, the black bean carob cupcake, is a little more personal.

“They are my mom’s recipe. Every time I see someone with a cupcake it reminds me of home,” said Chef Huff.

The black bean carob cupcakes and other baked goods are available to purchase at Hawk’s Nest and other spots on campus like the sandwich shop in the Landing. Other menu items include the fried Portobello mushroom salad, Dr. Pepper BBQ sauce sliders and a variety of cold sides like a cucumber and tomato salad. There is even a catch of the day option. Along with serving lunch, The Green Spot is also open for breakfast.

Don’t get too used to some menu items, though. “A couple things will change as the seasons change,” said Chef Huff, such as the BLT and the gazpacho soup. Soon students will be choosing from a fall-inspired menu. Some new options will include a sweet potato hash, macaroni and cheese and a roasted tomato soup, all made with ingredients from local farmers, of course.

The Green Spot supports local farmers by purchasing their produce. By doing this, UNCW is able to support the local economy. “We are ordering hundreds of dollars of product every week,” said Chef Huff.

The Green Spot not only serves local food, it also offers gluten-free options and is able to cater to students with other food allergies.

So far the response to The Green Spot has been good, giving UNCW a unique dining option. There may have been doubt in the beginning, but now it is clear that The Green Spot is here to stay.

“I questioned whether or not they would be able to draw people away from the idea of having pizza or burritos for lunch, but Chef Huff has done a great job with keeping the menu fresh and enticing to college students as well as faculty,” said Stiansen.

Chef Huff, who has been a daily presence at The Green Spot, will soon be handing over the reins to his staff. He has certainly left his mark with the menu he has created. He knows, however, that it isn’t about him, it’s about the food.

“A mentor of mine told me to always let the food be the star. When the chef becomes the star, the chef loses focus,” said Chef Huff.

With The Green Spot busy every day and students like Stiansen wanting it to stay open for dinner, it’s safe to say the food has been the star.