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Sunday, December 04, 2022

Local Gainesville favorites SweetBerries and Opus Coffee arrive to new campus locations

Newell and Norman Hall will house the newest campus eateries

<p>Newell Hall will house SweetBerries' newest location. The opening date will be announced this week.</p>

Newell Hall will house SweetBerries' newest location. The opening date will be announced this week.

SweetBerries Eatery and Frozen Custard made its final batch of Cherry Almond Cheesecake custard and closed its doors to the public for good in July — or so customers thought. 

SweetBerries will now open two new locations — this time, with one on campus. Its newest addition can be found at UF Newell Hall, replacing another campus favorite, Au Bon Pain. Another popular Gainesville eatery, Opus Coffee, has also arrived on campus at Norman Hall and opened Monday morning. 

SweetBerries was a top spot for frozen treats before closing down July 17. The family-owned restaurant was on the corner of Northwest 13th Street and Fifth Avenue before the property was sold to develop a student housing complex. 

Jane Osmond, who has owned SweetBerries since 2013, said moving into a space on UF felt like a natural shift — they’ve been a part of the university community for years, she said.

“We never expected to be on campus,” Osmond said. ”But a large part of our clientele has always been UF students.” 

The opening date will be announced this week, Osmond said.

SweetBerries and Opus are two of many new dining options arriving to campus after the school replaced its primary on-campus food provider, Aramark, with Chartwells Higher Education. Chartwells’ contract began July 1 and plans to bring more local restaurants to campus such as Satchel’s Pizza and Luke’s New York Bagels. 

UF replaced Aramark after student activist groups claimed the provider relied on prison labor contracts. UF announced it would stop using jail and prison inmate labor June 2020, two years before Chartwells’ contract officially took over. Three weeks after UF announced it would be hiring Chartwells, Aramark filed a complaint against UF for mistreatment and to overturn the decision, but quickly withdrew it.

The SweetBerries shop will provide grab-and-go items such as sandwiches and wraps from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on weekdays. It will open on weekends only for game days and other special occasions.

“The Sweetberries team is excited to arrive at UF, but is worried about the new challenges that come with the location,” Osmond said. “We are having to learn how to make food faster with a smaller menu, deal with no on-site parking and figure out catering.” 

UF Associate Business Services vice president Brandi Renton wrote in an email that SweetBerries — already a favorite among students — is likely to meld well with campus life.

“We are confident the UF community will respond favorably to the reopening of the longstanding Gainesville restaurant on our campus,” Renton wrote.

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Customers looking for SweetBerries’ full menu will have to visit its other new location at 619 NW 5th Ave., which will open in November.  

Opus at Norman Hall will be the Gainesville chain’s ninth store. It has already become an Innovation District staple, but is now moving closer to students in Norman Hall. Students can grab signature craft coffee or tea from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays.

Although excited to be on campus, The Opus team expects the usual challenges that come with starting at a new location, said 20-year-old UF computer science junior Katelyn Chau. 

“Bringing Opus to campus is super exciting, especially as a current student who gets to be a big part of its opening as manager,” Chau said. “I am looking forward to seeing the impact of Opus at Norman.”

Contact Claire at cgrunewald@alligator.org Follow her on Twitter @grunewaldclaire.

This article has been updated to reflect that the City Commission did not vote to sell the Sweetberries' property to develop student housing. The Alligator previously reported otherwise. 

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Claire Grunewald

Claire Grunewald is a third-year journalism major and the Santa Fe reporter for The Alligator. When she is not writing or reading, she's looking for new music or going to the beach.


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