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Clare's Garden closed, Quest reveals new initiatives


The front exterior of the University of St. Francis' St. Clare Campus.
The St. Clare Campus is located just minutes away from the Joliet main campus along Plainfield Road.

Clare’s Garden, the on-campus food option for the St. Clare campus, closed unexpectedly in early February. In an email from then Quest Food Management Services Director Gary Wagoner, students were informed that the closing would be “brief” for a “concept modification.”

The same email promised any relative information and updates would be communicated as soon as it was available. Over a month later, there have not been any public updates from Quest or its new manager Claressa Padilla.

President of the Student Government Association (SGA) Carter St. Clair said during a February SGA meeting that the university was consistently losing money on Clare’s Garden and staffing had become a minor issue.

Since its closing, students have been able to preorder meals through Quest that can be picked up at Clare’s Garden. Students can order meals at usfdining.org.

Its closing came in conjunction with the university temporarily freezing spending in some departments and an announcement by SGA that their budget for 2024-25 will be smaller than this year.

Quest has not been able to avoid the financial issues plaguing the university and it has become the issue of utmost importance to Padilla who assumed her new position as manager in February.

At the March 14 SGA meeting, Padilla revealed plans for the rest of the year, but omitted any mention of Clare’s Garden.

The biggest of Padilla’s new initiatives for the university’s food service is a catering program for clubs and organizations at the university.

Under Padilla’s new pilot program, students would be given a more cost effective option to cater club events, and they would be able to pick up the food made by Quest any time during set operation hours.

The menu ranges from chicken tenders to 16-inch pizzas, to deli sandwiches and cookies among other items. Padilla anticipates it to be rolled out in the immediate future.

Quest also announced a new initiative at Bernie’s Pub, the late-night food option on the university’s main campus. The initiative would shorten the hours on Fridays the usual 10 p.m. closing to an early 7:30 p.m. closing. However, each Friday would be sponsored by a different club on campus and could even include special menu items and drinks to highlight the club.

As of March 17, Quest has not responded to our request for comment.

Disclaimer: Quest Food Management Service is a paid advertiser with the USF Encounter. This article was written without input or direction from Quest Food Management Services.

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