Cougars Pack the New Den

When APU students camp out, it is usually for Trek, Outdoor Adventures, or Mexico Outreach. Smith Hall resident advisors Luke Irving and Sam Carleton, both junior communication majors, camped out for an entirely different reason. They wanted to be the first in line for the grand reopening of the Cougars' Den. “As the den’s most loyal fan, I needed to be the first to experience it’s reopening,” said Irving. “Camping outside the den started as a joke, but as it got closer we realized that we had to see the transformation before anyone else,” said Carleton.

The Cougars' Den underwent major construction starting last summer that carried on through the fall 2016 semester. It reopened on Tuesday, January 17, 2017, to a line of excited students filling Cougar Walk. Irving and Carleton said they were blown away by the modern upgrade to their beloved dining area.

The den represents a pinnacle of the APU experience. First introduced to prospective students at preview weekends, the venue serves as a meeting hub for college students and place to grab a meal. Since its reopening, the den experiences a daily line of students visiting the newly designed space and enjoying the variety of fresh fare. With the focus on maintaining a healthy lifestyle in college, this remodel provides a variety of nutritious and popular options for the APU community.

Dining Services strives to stay on top of the latest trends and college dining preferences by regularly seeking student input. In preparation for the remodel they conducted surveys, focus groups, and campus visits.

“The student survey results indicated that students desired more Italian food options,” said Roger Hodsdon, associate vice president for University Services. “The Cougars' Den upgrades are all centered around this student selected theme, from the pasta bar to the crêpes and gelato.”

In addition to the new offerings, the den improved some favorite items. Its famous pizzas are better than before due to a brand new stone oven cooking at 600 degrees, minimizing the wait time and maximizing the taste. With hand made patties, toasted buns, and extensive toppings, the burgers are fresher from the start. Each station offers the ‘create your own’ feature where students can customize their meal and watch its preparation in the open kitchen. More additions include smoothies, acai bowls, and a salad bar.

“The growing trend in the food industry is to create your own meal by selecting the items and the way you want them assembled,” said Samuel Samaan, executive director for university services. “By providing our students with more offerings the den is gaining a new level of affinity on campus.”