Zero waste at swanky new caf

Culture Food | Drink

Mystic Market is slated to swap in for UVic’s Centre Cafeteria by September 2014; the new, West Coast Trail-inspired eatery will boast zero per cent waste, according to a preview presentation on March 12.

Research on the expansion and renovation began in 2010, with a design meeting in August 2011, the first major plan of action for the facility that has been home to the campus Centre Cafeteria since 1978. Food Services Director Thomas Bain said the place got a minor facelift seven years ago, but has had no other recent renovations.

“First and only zero-per cent-waste facility on campus. We’re hoping to show campus occupants that if we can do it, then the entire campus can do it,” Bain says.

Bain and others involved in the project used popular cafeterias at other universities as inspiration. The University of Guelph’s Creelman Hall Marketplace cafeteria inspired Mystic Market’s atmosphere. “Their reign as number one is over,” says Bain.

“The student population, campus faculty, and staff has gone up way more than what that facility was meant for,” says Bain. “It became very clear that more and more students were choosing which campus they would go to based on the food service. A lot of studies show that to be true, so the campus made it a high priority to remodel the space.”

The final decision resulted in a facility inspired by a boardwalk through the rainforest, apparent in the design. The West Coast Trail inspirations appear metaphorically in the decorations of the facility, such as cloud-like lighting and support poles decorated to emulate a tree.

More than a remodelling and expansion, the organizers want to prioritize food quality and fast, efficient service. Every food kiosk will be equipped with its own point-of-sale checkout, to avoid line congestion.

Mystic Market will comprise eight different branded kiosks, including a breakfast bar, a noodle bar, and more, to be unveilled in coming months. A general-store kiosk will offer pre-made meals and fresh produce.

Food Production and Purchasing Manager Heather Seymour promises more food than ever before—including “mom-styled” soups, local sausages, celiac-friendly options at every kiosk, waffles, and even gelato. “I absolutely have the best job on campus. We’re having a lot of fun,” says Seymour.

UVic is considering longer hours and more affordable food prices for Mystic Market. New seating arrangements, such as comfortable “snug corners” around fireplaces, are under way; fabric panels to absorb sound and a partial patio roof for outdoor seating is meant to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable space for students and faculty alike.