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Saint Leo University President Jeffrey Senese (center), alongside Student Government Union President Ashley Butler (left) and Director of Dining Services Justin Bush (right), cut the ribbon signifying the opening of The Hungry Lion food truck.

Saint Leo University holds “soft opening” for new food truck

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on February 26, 2021

Saint Leo University is taking Dining Services on the road. The university officially opened its new food truck, The Hungry Lion, on Tuesday, February 23, with a “soft opening” at its residential campus in Pasco County.

Saint Leo University holds “soft opening” for new food truck

Why would a university operate a food truck? University President Jeffrey Senese sought a way to not only help students but also to be a community service—and spread the word about Saint Leo University. As the university continues to grow, the university is looking for creative ways to serve its students.

“President [Jeffrey] Senese had the vision that our amazing Dining Services cuisine could be shared with the community at special events, at the Tampa Education Center, and at University Campus to meet the needs of students—late night and close to their residence halls,” said Dr. Jen Shaw, vice president of Student Affairs, about the new food truck. “The Hungry Lion will provide fresh, delicious food ‘on the go’ in a variety of locations both on- and off-campus. Simultaneously, it will give community members a peek at the beautiful Pasco County campus through the pictures on the truck.”

The 33-foot-truck features photos of University Campus, 33701 State Road 52, and a distinctive logo featuring a lion, Saint Leo’s mascot.

A sampling of items on The Hungry Lion’s menu includes steak, turkey, or black bean burgers; pizzas; melts; grinders, tomato bisque soup; creamy macaroni and cheese; hand-cut chips dusted with blue cheese and Parmesan; and rosemary garlic butter Tuscan fries. Some sandwiches on The Hungry Lion menu are named after Saint Leo community members: Abbot Isaac’s Special, the Mac Daddy (Frank) Hernandez, the (Joseph) Cillo Burger, and Frank’s (Orlando) Tomato Basil. The menu names and items will rotate depending on where the truck is stationed and the event.

At first, The Hungry Lion will be open to students, faculty, and staff at lunch time Tuesdays through Thursdays. The hope is to soon offer night time dining for students, Shaw said. Plans also call for the food truck to frequently be stationed at the Saint Leo’s Tampa Education Center, 1403 N. Howard Ave., and to be there for events that are open to the public. Patrons may use cash or credit cards. 

When fully staffed and operational, The Hungry Lion will begin serving at community events. To inquire about availability, email: [email protected].

At Tuesday’s soft opening, students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to learn about the food truck and sample some of its menus. The truck also received a blessing from University Chaplain Father Randall Meissen.

Saint Leo University Food Truck Ribbon-cutting: Saint Leo University President Jeffrey Senese (center), alongside Student Government Union President Ashley Butler (left) and Director of Dining Services Justin Bush (right), cut the ribbon signifying the opening of The Hungry Lion food truck.

Saint Leo University Food Truck Food Tasting: Saint Leo University students, faculty, and staff had the opportunity to taste some of the food truck’s offerings during the soft opening held on February 23. Here, senior Montse Molina samples one of the truck’s sandwiches.

Saint Leo University Food Truck Soft Opening: Saint Leo University Director of Dining Services Justin Bush shares a preview of what the truck will offer during the “soft opening” event. The Hungry Lion will serve a seasonal menu based on some of the current popular culinary trends.

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering 57 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 18,200 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 16 education centers in five states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 98,000 alumni. Learn more at saintleo.edu.

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