More than a month after its Nov. 30 opening in the basement of Norris last year, Frontera Fresco held its official grand opening Wednesday. The event featured an appearance and Q&A session with the restaurant's founder, celebrity chef Rick Bayless.
Frontera Fresco guests were treated to free samples of the restaurant’s popular guacamole as well as free mini-desserts for the first 500 customers. Other items included a reduced price on coffee and a giveaway with a prize of an iPod nano and free lunch for four.
The restaurant had delayed its grand opening to ensure Bayless’ availability and to allow time for the restaurant to be fully operational, according to Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, assistant vice president for student auxiliary services.
“We wanted to make sure everything was up and running smoothly for the event,” Payne-Kirchmeier said. “Opening a new restaurant concept takes time and a lot of focus.”
Bayless addressed a crowd of students, administrators and other fans prior to the ribbon-cutting ceremony. He thanked Northwestern and spoke of his long-time desire to bring his restaurant to a university.
“Knowing Northwestern, we thought this would be the perfect place for us to get our toes in the water working on college campuses,” Bayless said. This is Bayless’ first and only restaurant on a college campus.
Following his speech, Bayless elaborated on his goal. “We had been talking about seeing what it would be like to be on a college campus,” he said. “We feel like we have something bigger to offer than just good food. It gives people an opportunity to have a cultural experience and perhaps learn about flavors they might not know about."
Bayless spent the remainder of his visit speaking with fans and signing copies of his cookbook.
“I knew about him before this whole thing opened, so when I heard that he was opening this, I was really excited,” said Weinberg junior Ben Foster, who went to the event.
Foster could not be happier with how Frontera Fresco turned out, especially in comparison to Norris’ dining options in years past.
“I never ate at any of those. I think I ate at that Sbarro once," Foster said. "But this is way better, much cooler.”