PEORIA, Ill. -- The new food court at Bradley University's Michel Student Center is a spacious, 11,000 square foot facility.
Scheduled to open Saturday when students return to campus, a few early birds sampled beverages on Thursday.
School officials anticipate it becoming a gathering place for students.
"In addition to their responsibilities and interest to learn, they sleep, they also eat, and as we know food is very much a part of social life at a university like Bradley," said Gary Anna, Bradley's vice-president for business affairs.
The new food court will feature four restaurants and a convenience store which will stay open until midnight seven days a week.
One of the restaurants is a Chick-fil-A, whose corporate president, Dan Cathy, recently took a public stance against gay marriage.
In answer to questions about a Chick-fil-A being included in the new Michel Center food court the university issued a statement saying, "the food court is not part of the school's core residential dining plan and therefore dining at Chick-fil-A is discretionary."
"We've had some comments," Anna said, "I don't think quite as many as some have accounted for. We brought them here because they were the best choice."
Anna says that choice was based on recommendations by Aramark, the new food service that university has contracted with, and that of other food service companies.
Campus traffic patterns suggest more than 3,000 people in close proximity to the student center each day.
"Couple that with the employees that we have and some people who are anxious to get in here we've got a lot of hungry mouths to feed. We think this facility will take care of it," said Anna.