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USF gets a kick of Tampa Bay flavor thanks to 'Local Restaurant Row' program

Livy O's is serving up the chicken & waffles
Livy O's USF Local Restaurant Row
Posted at 5:45 AM, Jul 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 07:41:22-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Hungry college students in Tampa Bay will be getting home-cooked meals inside their dining halls this year.

USF, with food services partner Aramark, will feature the innovative "Local Restaurant Row" program at both its Tampa and St. Petersburg campuses.

Female-led, minority-strong small businesses will especially be featured in the program.

Currently, Brandon catering company Livy O's has its Messy Bun sandwich concept churning out life-affirming chicken & waffles at the Marshall Student Center's food court. Previously, Tampa's Tanya & Matt's Ice Creamiest rocked the space.

USF St. Pete will be getting a "local taco shop" in its dining hall — although the exact restaurant is still a secret.

For years, Livy O's wanted to try a brick-and-mortar cafe space. The USF program allows them to test different ideas without a bigger risk.

"This has really given us the confirmation that we can do this!" said Livy O's Staci Ashwood.

Aramark now has "Local Restaurant Rows" on more than 40 college campuses across the country.

Aramark and the schools provide the customers and the infrastructure; the restaurants provide the food and staff. Right now, occupants are scheduled to roll in and out of each location monthly, but that could change depending on the situation.

For USF, the delicious appeal is in further connecting the richly diverse Tampa Bay community to the school.

"We want to give these restaurants the storefront, get them face-to-face with students, faculty and staff, and allow them to share their story," says Jessica Cicalese, marketing director of USF Dining Services.