December 16, 2013 - 11:13pm
BY HILLARY CRAWFORD
While students have spent the fall semester walking by an empty space in the Michigan Union, the new Au Bon Pain restaurant is slated to open in less than a month.
The Boston-based cafe and bakery chain Au Bon Pain will open Jan. 7 in the space formerly occupied by the University Club, a sit-down restaurant, which opened in 1937.
The restaurant will host a grand opening on Jan. 16 from 5 to 7 p.m, featuring free samples and live entertainment by student performers.
Specializing in pre-made pastries, made-to-order sandwiches, salads and entrées, Au Bon Pain will be open until 10 p.m. every day and will accept Blue Bucks.
University Unions announced Au Bon Pain’s and Starbucks’ 10-year lease in the Union in July. While Starbucks was slated to open in November, it has yet to announce an official opening date and remains under construction.
Susan Pile, director of the Michigan Union, said the selection committee for Union tenants valued the restaurant’s variety in meal options, including vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free.
“We think our students have pretty refined taste and, like on other college campuses, Au Bon Pain really meets that need,” Piles said. “It’s also attractive to non-students. The faculty and staff on campus are going to have a nice, convenient place to go to grab a fresh meal at lunch in the heart of campus.”
Pile added that the space, which was remodeled over the summer, will accommodate group events and act as a gathering spot for performances and studying.
“I think we’re also going to see a lot more traffic in that space,” Pile added.