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UB adds bistro to medical school, but fare will be light

Students and faculty at the University at Buffalo's new medical school building will be able to eat in a sunlit bistro on the second floor overlooking Washington Street.

It won't be a full-course cafeteria, and UB wants it that way.

The hope is that the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences serves as a catalyst for private-sector development in the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus area, and that faculty and students filter into the surrounding neighborhoods to eat. That's been the idea since the $375 million medical school building was conceived – to be a gateway to the medical campus and a bridge to the nearby community.

But the university also recognized it needed more than the "grab 'n go" option that was first envisioned for the new building. The university now is planning what's described as a bistro cafe that could seat up to nearly 50 people in a roughly 250-square-foot area.

"This is a convenience cafe for people who are working in the building, students and faculty. We wanted something a bit more appealing than just a grab 'n go," said Suzanne G. Laychock, senior associate dean for facilities and faculty affairs. "It's also not intended to be a luxury environment."

The new UB Medical School on the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus towers over Allen Street, Thursday, Jan. 12, 2017. (Derek Gee/Buffalo News)

It also will be located where the majority of teaching is taking place and where students will be spending a lot of time. A 200-person classroom and a 400-person classroom will be located nearby. Breakfast and lunch items will be available.

"We thought if we had a decent cafe it would be a good addition to the school," Laychock said. "It is very central to where the students will be."

The cafe is not intended for the general public, she noted.

A full-scale cafeteria was never part of the plan – especially since designers wanted students and staff to leave the building and walk to nearby restaurants.

"We are encouraging everyone to use the restaurants in the downtown area that will compete well with what's offered at the medical school," Laychock said. "We're not offering exotic fare."

But the university also is aware that students may not have a lot of down time to do that all the time, so the in-house bistro idea evolved.

Meanwhile, food service is being planned by Ciminelli Real Estate Corp. in its Conventus medical research and office building at Main and High streets, next to the UB medical school.

"We are exploring options, but nothing is finalized as yet," said Anne E. Duggan, company spokeswoman, on Wednesday.

The Medical School cafe is expected to offer soups and sandwiches, among other items, but not likely grilled items, such as burgers, since no exhaust system is planned, Laychock said.

UB officials have not yet chosen a vendor to run the cafe.

The cafe would open either in late fall or early next year. The building, now under construction at Main and Allen streets, is slated to be completed this fall, when faculty will begin moving in; students will begin classes there next January.

A faculty lounge will be located near the cafe with seating for about 15 to 20, while a student lounge would be located on the south end of the building but still on the second floor.

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