Amanda Keeven, a Sodexo employee, dishes up lunch with a smile last week at the new Southside Cafe on UMSL's South Campus. It's located on the first floor of the South Campus Classroom Building. The cafe is open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday. It's closed on weekends. (Photo by Alicia Hottle)

How about a French vanilla cappuccino with your muffin? A fresh salad? Enchiladas with Southwestern corn? Welcome to the Southside Café.

Right on schedule, a new eatery at the University of Missouri–St. Louis opened for business April 25. And at least one customer is positively ecstatic about the change from vending machine fare to fresh food.

“I used to stop here before my classes in the evening and get a bag of peanuts. Now I can actually eat dinner,” said Erica Marks, a library assistant in the Thomas Jefferson Library and a student in counseling and family therapy in the College of Education.

There were a lot of smiling faces at the café Friday. Those smiles have been a long time coming. Limited food service on South Campus has been the source of numerous complaints in recent years. All the residence halls and several classroom buildings used by the colleges of nursing, education and optometry are located on South Campus.

Formerly called the Flamingo Café, the space last had a facelift in the early 90s. Crammed with vending machines, a microwave oven, old tables and chairs, it was the only place for students, faculty and staff to meet friends and grab a quick snack at lunch or before evening classes. It closed its doors in late February and received a complete makeover.

Sodexo, the university’s current food service, teamed up with the Office of Student Life to renovate the new space on the first floor of the South Campus Classroom Building. Sodexo also opened a more extensive dining hall in the Provincial House on South Campus in February.

Student Life sponsored a contest to rename the Flamingo Cafe. Katie Buchholz, a doctoral student in clinical psychology came up with the winning name: Southside Café. She spends a lot of time on South Campus working as a research assistant at the Center for Trauma Recovery. She’s looking forward to sitting in the café she named, sipping a latte and using the new Amazon Kindle she won as a prize.

Ted Ficklen, a library assistant at the Ward E. Barnes Education Library, can see his office from the new café.

“It’s pretty exciting having hot food so close to home,” he said, eyeing a pan of cheese enchiladas.

The Southside Café is bright and colorful with soft seating, bistro tables and chairs, ceiling fans and new flooring. It’s open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday. It closes at 2 p.m. on Friday and is closed on the weekends. Diners can choose from light breakfast items, two hot entrees with sides, soups, salads, wraps, fruits, beverages and snacks. For anyone feeling nostalgic, some of the vending machines have been moved to the hallway.

Maureen Zegel

Maureen Zegel