Ragsdale Center offers new limited dining services


Morgan Taylor / HilltopViews

Val Mar (left) and Laura Chappell both plan to visit the Ragsdale Center again during the semester. The new location opened the second week of the semester.

The South Congress Market in the Ragsdale Center reopened this week under new limited hours. The popular dining hall on the St. Edward’s University campus initially closed during the spring 2020 semester due to COVID-19 restrictions.

The South Congress Market, known colloquially as “Rags,” will be open from 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and from 7:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Fridays. According to an email sent to students last week, the initial plan is to provide coffee, breakfast pastries, a soup and salad bar, a sushi station and other snacks for students.

“South Congress Market closed along with all other dining venues on April 5, 2020,” Azher Kantawala, the general manager of Bon Appétit Management Company, said. “The closure of the residence halls and apartments and transition to online instruction were the two deciding factors in closing all campus dining venues.”

Since then, the South Congress Market has been unavailable to students. 

“We briefly reopened the South Congress Market in the Fall of 2020 for approximately one month [from Aug. 24-Sept. 30, 2020] but it has been otherwise closed from April 2020 through December 2021,” Kantawala said.

With the closure of this beloved facility, on-campus dining options were limited to the Hunt Hall Café and the Grab & Goat. These dining options were inconvenient to students who primarily had classes in buildings such as Trustee and Fleck Hall. St. Edward’s University and Bon Appétit delayed reopening the South Congress Market due to labor shortages and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic. 

“We brought South Congress Market back online in a limited capacity as soon as it was operationally feasible and reasonable to do so,” Kantawala said.

For some students, like sophomore Val Mar, this will be the first semester they are able to eat at Rags. 

“It’s going to be extremely convenient because it’s right in the middle of campus,” Mar said. “You can go to Jo’s [Coffee], and then, if you’re hungry, you can come here and grab something to eat.” 

For others, it’s a return to what life on campus was like before the pandemic. 

“Hunt is really good, but this is better,” Laura Chappell, a sophomore communication student, said. “It will be great for upperclassmen who don’t want to walk all the way to Hunt.”

Mar and Chappell said they were most excited about the salad bar because it provides a healthy option that was missing from Hunt during the pandemic. 

“At Hunt, it was mostly hamburgers and sandwiches,” Chappell said. Both students also wanted to try the grab-and-go sushi.

Though the omicron variant has caused another spike in COVID-19 cases, Bon Appétit plans to keep South Congress Market open. 

“We know that the nature [of] the pandemic requires that we be flexible and responsive,” Kantawala said. “Any venue closure is a decision made in collaboration with the University leadership, and we would only close a venue if it were absolutely necessary.”


This article was updated on Jan. 26 to reflect response from Azher Kantawala, the general manager for Bon Appétit. The article originally indicated that Hilltop Views had not received response at the time of writing.