Out with the old, in with the new: UM dining to replace Tacos & Tattoos, introduce two-story dining hall and renovated Starbucks

Tacos & Tattoos at the University of Miami Coral Gables campus. Photo credit: Alexandra Fisher

For its centennial year, the University of Miami is elevating the dining experience for students. From a two-story dining hall to a freshly renovated Starbucks, students will be able to taste and see what UM Dining has to offer this upcoming year.

However, this upgrade is coming with a few changes to the University’s current dining options.

Tacos & Tattoos notified the University this spring that they would not be returning to provide dining services for the 2024-2025 school year.

“Local restaurants and businesses don’t typically frequent university settings, so this was a new thing for them,” said Ana Alvarez, assistant vice president of auxiliary services at UM. “So they just made the decision that they did not want to come back for year three.”

Alvarez works to manage relationships with third-party businesses that run services for the University.

Tacos & Tattoos, which replaced Lime Fresh Mexican Grill in August 2022, has become a favorite among students looking for a late-night dinner on campus.

However, due to inconsistent hours of operation typical of restaurants on a university campus, the joint has recently decided to take its business elsewhere.

“We have been working with the dining team to quickly identify some alternatives for that space,” Alvarez said. “We think that the quick-service Mexican offering is important for that space.”

While Tacos & Tattoos is on its way out, Alvarez confirmed that Pollo Tropical and several other campus restaurants are here to stay.

“We don’t have immediate plans for Pollo Tropical to leave yet–they’re still doing well,” Alvarez said.

When identifying whether or not campus restaurants will continue into the following year, auxiliary services recognize general trends in sales data or transaction volumes, which give them a general idea of how many more years the restaurant will be in operation.

Both Halal Shack, which opened in the Hurricane Food Court this past year, as well as Daybreak, which popped up in Lakeside Village in August 2022, have stepped up their sales and defended their place on campus.

“Daybreak had a really good year, and we’ve been really flexible with the menu,” Alvarez said. “We’ll probably keep Daybreak and just change the menu over the course of the remainder of the housing master plan. Once all of that gets built and we see how traffic patterns are established, then maybe we will look at Daybreak and consider another option for Daybreak.”

Adjacent to the Hurricane Food Court, the University’s 10-year-old Starbucks location is due for extensive renovations this summer.

“Students are going to come back to a really cool new state-of-the-art Starbucks,” Alvarez said. “We’re also going to be adding another register to help with the high volume of students and improve wait times.”

Across the lake, UM dining has been cooking up a new dining hall that will open for students this fall in Centennial Village.

“Students can expect new stations, all-day breakfast, an area called ‘Deliciously Without,’ which is going to be a new allergen-friendly station,” Alvarez said. “Being able to design a new facility that accommodates the needs of the students is very important.”

Aside from the traditional comfort foods that the dining hall provides such as pizza, pasta and deli options, the new Centennial Village dining hall will introduce a bake shop and an expanded teaching kitchen for students.

While the layout of the dining hall will be similar to the previous design, Alvarez emphasizes that food preparation will become the heart of the space.

“For the most part, it is an all-you-can-eat facility but with more robust platforms,” Alvarez said. “Cooking is more ‘out front’ and in the open versus a traditional program where the kitchen is more tucked towards the back.”

However, these improvements won’t come without a cost. With ongoing discussions about the rise in tuition for this upcoming year, it is clear that dining plans will cover a portion of that increase.

“Typically, we do see an increase when it comes to tuition, housing and meals. We are expecting an increase, but we don’t have that exact increase yet,” Alvarez said.

It is clear that UM Dining is committed to expanding and improving dining options for students both at Centennial Village and across campus.

“We’re organizing a lot of procurement programming around inviting resident students and commuter students to come over and take a look at the new space,” Alvarez said. “It’s going to be a wonderful addition to this campus and will really elevate the program tremendously.”