Sodexo to replace Pastaggio’s Restaurant at Frenger Food Court


Shane Buchanan

Pastaggio’s in Frenger Food Court will soon be replaced by Sodexo.

Locally-owned Pastaggio’s Italian restaurant announced their decision in July 2019 to terminate their lease with New Mexico State University Auxiliary Services and close their second location in NMSU’s Frenger Food Court, which has left a vacant space.

Frenger Food Court is the only dining location on campus that is not operated by Sodexo at NMSU — rather, the court is run by NMSU Auxiliary Services and is designed to lease spaces out to local food vendors from the Las Cruces area.

Director of Business Support Kim Huddleston explained that Sodexo, instead of a local food vendor, has been selected to fulfill the space that used to belong to Pastaggio’s after the local restaurant left the food court after less than a two-months’ notice.

“To quickly provide the choice of Italian food, mainly pizza, to our students and faculty, Auxiliary Administration approached our campus food service provider Sodexo to fill the space on a temporary basis,” Huddleston said.

After receiving notification of Pastaggio’s request to leave NMSU, Auxiliary Services requested for the restaurant to operate in Frenger until August 30 to “allow additional choices to the returning students and faculty,” according to Huddleston, despite that the lease between the two institutions states that a 90-day notice is required for the restaurant to be released.

Huddleston said that the owners stated that they “decided to move in a different direction,” when they requested to terminate their lease with Auxiliary Services.

Pastaggio’s Italian did not respond back for comment about their decision to close their NMSU location.

According to Sodexo General Manager Dwayne Wisniewski, Sodexo at NMSU will be implementing their own Italian items in the space that used to be Pastaggio’s Italian in Frenger Food Court for the current academic year, as requested by Auxiliary Services.

“We are in the middle of a transition to put something there for just the year,” Wisniewski said.

Sodexo’s contract with NMSU that authorizes the company to be the sole food catering source will end on June 30, 2019, meaning that it is unknown what will become of the space that was leased to Pastaggio’s in the coming academic years.

Wisniewski said that Sodexo’s restaurant replacement will be designed to provide similar Italian cuisine and is expected to open by the end of September at the latest.

“It’s just really for the students because we’re not changing almost anything,” Wisniewski said about the incoming restaurant. “The menu will be very similar to [Pastaggio’s].”

Because Sodexo and the university had little time to make decisions on a new food provider, Wisniewski said the choice was made to continue with Italian food without reaching out for any student input.

“We have to move quickly—there’s not enough time for us to have any surveys. It’s just a matter of us being able to provide services to the students and we don’t want to compete with anyone who’s already there [in the food court],” Wisniewski said.

One NMSU student said she is sad that Pastaggio’s Italian is no longer on campus and that the restaurant is her favorite place to eat at in all of Las Cruces.

“I was a little disappointed because I really liked their food—them and The Mix are the only places I eat at here [at NMSU’s campus],” the unnamed student said. “This is where me and my friend used to come get lunch at all the time.”

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