Root 217’s Fast Fresh Success

UCSB Restaurant Combines Comfort Food and Health Ingredients in the UCen

Root 217 Employees (from left) Janee, Liza, and Kelsey provide healthy options for UCSB students. | Credit: Paul Wellman

Located in the UCen on the UCSB campus, Root 217 is one of the only campus establishments that offers an array of craft burgers and sandwiches. And since they’re made with fresh, regional ingredients, the fast-casual restaurant provides students, faculty, and visitors a place to indulge in hearty foods while feeling good about what they’re eating. 

The concept was developed in 2005 by Sue Hawkins, a previous UCSB dining director who jumped at the opportunity to bring farm-to-table eating into the UCen. Root 217 allowed customers to steer away from the greasy fast-food culture, causing the sole burger joint at the time, Wendy’s, to dramatically decline in sales. UCSB ultimately terminated their contract with Wendy’s and embraced Hawkins’s vision of an organic, naturally sourced burger restaurant.

“We originally started with burgers and fish,” said Robbie Yankow, assistant director of UCen dining. “We mastered that and knew we needed to add to the initial menu. We consistently come up with new ideas, keep the menu fresh, and maintain good food costs.”

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