Nation’s first all-vegan dining hall is celebrating 10 years of service at UNT

Tuesday, October 26, 2021 - 11:12

DENTON (UNT), Texas – The University of North Texas’ popular eatery and the nation’s first and only all-vegan collegiate dining hall Mean Greens Café is celebrating a decade of service this November.

Thanks to the overwhelming success of Mean Greens Café, UNT is recognized as a leader in vegan dining on college campuses. Since it first opened its doors in 2011, Mean Greens Café has been dedicated to serving fresh, made-from-scratch, plant-based dishes in a variety of international flavors. Favorites include made-to-order paninis and flatbread pizza as well as Seitan gyros and citrus basil honey made in house.

The dining hall has blazed many trails during the past 10 years, including reducing the university’s carbon footprint through Mean Green Acres. The hydroponic garden was built inside a specially designed, upcycled freight trailer behind the dining hall. At any given time, five to 11 different varieties of lettuce and herbs are grown in the container, allowing UNT Dining Services to produce up to 750 heads a week for Mean Greens Café and other dining halls on campus — all on about one gallon of water per day.

Guiding the culinary and hydroponic garden operations at the dining hall is Cristopher Williams, assistant director and chef general manager of Mean Greens Café. Williams has more than more than 15 years of experience in the industry, working previously for Hilton Dallas Southlake, Vineyard Steakhouse, Magnolia Hotel and Fire Oak Grill. As an American Culinary Federation silver and bronze medalist, Williams brings his hands-on approach to his work at UNT, working shoulder-to-shoulder with everyone to make sure they continue to innovate and put in the effort to move forward.

On average, the dining hall serves more than 1,000 guests per day. In response to its popularity on campus, plans are underway to expand Mean Greens Café and the on-campus hydroponic garden program.

“We take pride in providing healthful, plant-based options for our community,” said UNT Dining Services Executive Director Peter Balabuch. “Mean Greens has developed an enthusiastic following on campus and beyond, and we’re excited to continue its growth in the years to come.”

Among the most recent accolades for Mean Greens Café is the Gold Award for Best Vegan Recipe for its original Tomato Mushroom Curry in the National Association of College & University Food Services’ 2020 Nutrition Awards Contest.

Mean Greens will mark its 10-year anniversary with a special event during lunch Nov. 3. There will be live music, a robust menu of new dishes as well as old favorites, and a hydroponic garden display of plants at different stages of the life cycle.

Like all of UNT’s dining halls, Mean Greens Café is open to the public. It has an all-you-care-to-eat service style accessible with a single meal plan swipe or $8.45 plus tax at the door without a meal plan.



When: 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Nov. 3 (Wednesday)

Where: Mean Greens Café, 902 Avenue C, Denton



UNT Dining Services is the largest self-supported food service department in North Texas. With 20-plus retail food shops, five dining halls, upscale dining restaurant, in-house bakery and full-service catering department, it serves nearly 5 million meals annually. As the largest employer on campus, Dining Services provides resume-building job opportunities to nearly 1,100 student employees. UNT is recognized as a leader in vegan dining on college campuses, thanks to the overwhelming success of Mean Greens Café, the nation’s first all-vegan collegiate dining hall. It also is a member of the Menus of Change University Researach Collaborative. UNT was named No. 2 in the nation as a college with the best food by and also is the recipient of the prestigious Loyal E. Horton Award from the National Association of College and University Food Services.

UNT News Service
(940) 565-2108