Komida restaurants get bigger and greener

Introduction: Past Summer the University of Antwerp invested heavily in student restaurants capacity.

While the students were on holiday (or battling through their resits), the komida restaurants at the University of Antwerp were bustling with activity. All of the restaurants have undergone a dramatic facelift, capacity has been increased everywhere and the trees of the Leien have been given a second life.

The University of Antwerp has recently invested substantial resources in new buildings. In the last few years, the focus has been on Campus Drie Eiken and Campus Groenenborger. The introduction of new infrastructure also led to certain activities being relocated, and as a result, there are now more students at Campus Drie Eiken in Wilrijk than ever before.

“This increase in students was felt in the restaurants”, says An Op de Beeck of komida, the umbrella organisation for student restaurants at the University of Antwerp. “During lunch, it was far too busy. The students rightly pointed this out and we decided to take action. The counters have been repositioned, ensuring a better flow.”

All the restaurants have a fresh new look - and one that is a lot greener. But the most striking change is the increase in capacity. At Campus Drie Eiken, 90 seats have been added. Op de Beeck: “On average, each seat can be used twice during the lunch break, so we’re actually talking about 180 extra seats. At Campus Middelheim, 72 seats have been added, and 60 at Campus Groenenborger.”

Plane trees from the Leien

The capacity of komida@Stadscampus has also been increased by 34 extra seats, but the most striking changes in this location have nothing to do with seating. “The circulation area has been expanded substantially, making room for a large mural of the Antwerp skyline painted by one of our own staff members. We also bought two large tables made from the plane trees that were felled to make way for the roadworks on the Leien.”

Also new on the Stadscampus, with 40 extra seats of its own, is a coffee bar by The Big C, a young social enterprise that aims to encourage a different way of experiencing coffee. Driving force Stefanie Veraghtert hopes to create more social and economic opportunities for people who have been affected by cancer. This is the place to be for coffee that satisfies both your taste buds and your conscience, and served by extraordinary baristas as well.

“The Big C's approach ties in perfectly with our vision on sustainability, both in terms of food and people”, says Op de Beeck. “Our collaboration with Travant, a Centre for General Welfare project, is also part of this philosophy. From now on, they’ll be supplying organic bread rolls to our branches on a weekly basis. They’ll also be supplying komida@Mutsaard with pastries and cakes made with great care by people who have many talents but few opportunities on the labour market.”