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the Michigan Union

Re-Union

Businesses old and new at the revitalized campus center

by Britain Woodman

From the March, 2020 issue

The Michigan Union reopened in late January after being closed for two years. A dramatic renovation turned its outdoor courtyard into an atrium and created new student-organization space from old standbys like the Billiards Room.

The old Union's uncovered courtyard was bordered by a Starbucks Coffee franchise. The renewed Union boasts a Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea in its stead. The Starbucks had a narrow queue area in front of its counter, with high-top tables along its south wall that squeezed the line even farther. Now that the courtyard is covered, that wall has floor-to-ceiling glass panels that can open.

Around the corner from Sweetwaters, the space that was formerly Au Bon Pain--and before that the University Club--is now a Panera. Panera's parent company acquired Au Bon Pain three years ago, and other ABP stores around the country also are being converted to Paneras. The freestanding Panera at North U and Thayer remains open, so fans of the chain's breads, sandwiches, and baked treats have plenty of options.

Downstairs, the former Michigan Union Bookstore, long operated by Barnes & Noble, is returning as Barnes & Noble Michigan Union. It wasn't open when we visited in early February, but it looks like it main sales floor will feature spirit wear and Michigan merchandise, with a separate storefront to pick up textbook orders--a step up from the recent locked steel cage in the basement of the Shapiro Library.

Blue Market is a rebranding of the convenience store formerly known as U-Go's. Michigan Dining has replaced the bulk-food containers and soda fountain with cold-brew coffee taps and additional cooler space for grab-and-go entrees. And Tech Shop is the new incarnation of U-M's Computer Showcase. When it opens, its new footprint will comprise both its old space and the site of the neighboring U-M Credit Union branch. (UMCU will eventually open across the hallway, in the space previously occupied by Kinko's and later STA Travel.)

Subway and Panda Express will reopen in their original

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locations. Pizza has been a constant in the Union; the latest purveyor is Mama DeLuca's, an Italian concept owned by Subway's parent company and usually located in its sandwich shop. This one will occupy the seldom-used second Subway counter, in the same area once filled by Pizza Hut Express.

The final chain tenant in the Union will be Taco Bell, last seen on campus in the basement of the Michigan League. Wendy's announced soon after the Union's closure that it would not reopen there. Its forthcoming replacement in the Union is MiBurger, a Michigan Dining operation and "local, sustainable alternative to your favorite burger joint," promising halal and vegan options.

Sweetwaters Coffee & Tea, 530 South State St., Rm. 1300, (734) 548-8088. Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-midnight. Sun. 9 a.m.-midnight. sweetwaterscafe.com

Panera Bread, 530 S. State St., (734) 436-7391. Mon.-Sat. 7 a.m.-9 p.m., Sun. 9 a.m.-9 p.m. panerabread.com

Barnes & Noble, 530 S. State St., (734) 995-8877. Mon.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., closed Sat. & Sun. bncollege.com

Blue Market, 530 S. State St., (734) 647-2067. Mon.-Fri. 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-11 p.m. dining.umich.edu
    (end of article)

[Originally published in March, 2020.]

 

 
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