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New Café Opens in Distler with Focus on Freshness

Responding to requests from students, faculty and professional staff to expand healthful food options on campus, Franklin & Marshall unveiled a new dining venue Aug. 23.

ZeBi, which replaces Jazzman's on the ground floor of Distler House, features freshly made flatbread sandwiches, ciabatta deli sandwiches, fresh salads, soup, macaroni and cheese and breakfast items. The café offers the same fair-trade coffee options formerly available at Jazzman's, in addition to organic drinks and snacks.

Thanks to efforts to have the new options in place before the 2012-13 academic year, the transition took less than two weeks. Managed by Sodexo, F&M's dining services provider, ZeBi—short for Zest Bistro—was the result of nearly one year of planning, said F&M Associate Vice President for Administration Barry Bosley.

"During the seven years that Jazzman's was operational, we added as best we could to the menu offerings. But given the limitations of the space and equipment, we were not able to meet campus expectations," Bosley said. "The students, faculty and professional staff frequently asked for freshly made healthy options instead of the limited grab-and-go items. ZeBi provides that. "

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  • Franklin & Marshall College unveiled ZeBi, a new dining option featuring freshly made sandwiches, salads, soups and other items, Aug. 23 in Distler House. Above, Sodexo employees Kevin Mull (left) and Carisha Peters welcome customers on the café's inaugural day. (Photo by Eric Forberger)

Bosley said the brand of ZeBi matured over the past year, making it an attractive option for F&M. There are eight ZeBi locations at colleges and universities across the country.

F&M students Jared Gorin '13 and Molly Thompson '13 traveled with Bosley and several Sodexo employees to visit the ZeBi at George Washington University on Aug. 1, providing feedback on the new dining option.

"It's great to have another location on campus for food," Gorin said. "Everything at ZeBi is in and out of the kitchen [quickly]. We love the freshness and taste."

Kevin Dean, general manager of F&M's dining services, said ZeBi will have several new menu items each week.

"Customer feedback will help us provide more menu options, all with a focus on freshness," Dean said. "Each week we'll have four new items rotate onto the menu, and we'll seek input from customers to see what's working and what's not."

ZeBi's video menu board lists calories for each of its food options, switching from breakfast to lunch at 11 a.m. The café's hours are 7:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to midnight Sunday.