The Castle reopens as a veggie-friendly restaurant

Dining spot serves up a ‘plant forward’ menu

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After a year of renovations, The Castle returned to expand the University's vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options. 

Andrew Walsh | Cavalier Daily

For many years, The Castle reigned as a classic late-night spot primarily for Old Dorms students to get a variety of snacks, like chips, burgers and sodas. But following this past year’s renovations, Bonnycastle is officially coming back with a twist — this is the first year The Castle will be operating as a vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free-friendly dining space. 

For many students on Grounds who sometimes struggle to find a healthy variety of dining options that fit their dietary needs, this change represents a huge win.

“The inspiration for a plant forward menu came from student feedback and requests,” Scott Aebersold, Aramark marketing manager for U.Va. Dining, said in an email. “We have heard from students that they would like a flagship healthy dining room on Grounds. The Castle’s unique ability to allow for self-order personalization will allow guests to create a large selection of healthy, vegan and vegetarian options to their unique tastes.”

The concept was tested in the O’Hill Dining Hall, in which selections from The Castle menu were offered at “The Castle Test Kitchen” station. Through student feedback, organizers were able to become more selective about which dishes would make the final, student-driven menu.

Third-year College student Mia Brandon said The Castle’s options have motivated her to make healthier dietary choices.

“Within my first semester of classes, I was exposed to personal topics in an ENWR that persuaded me to try a plant based and reduced meat diet,” Brandon said. “I stuck with it for a long time and tried different things out. Now, I am a third-year looking forward to going back. With The Castle offering this plant based cuisine, I’m quite excited for the new space to hang out and variety so people can try what I want to become my new lifestyle.”

Aebersold said the restaurant was made to be “plant forward,” in order to be unique from other dining spaces on Grounds.

“[The] Castle’s menu allows for all of the items to be built in a made to order fashion,” Aebersold said. “This will encourage students with specific dining preferences to pick and choose their ingredients in which ever manner they see fit for their life style. This addition will help accommodate those guests who are seeking vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free options.”

The re-opening of Bonnycastle will accommodate many students, particularly those living in Old Dorms. 

“I’m really excited, living in Kent Dabney [as an RA], which is right next to Bonnycastle,” said  third-year Commerce student Urja Jariwala. “It’s really great to know that there is a food source right next you, and I think its hours are decently long enough … It’s also friendly to vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free diets, so that’s amazing.”

Jariwala said she thought that Bonnycastle's reopening will benefit students living far from Central Grounds.

Jariwala said that when she lived in New Dorms, she had always viewed Crossroads as the go-to for late night snacks and knew students in Old Dorms viewed Bonnycastle as their late night food option.

“When I think about the people who live around Runk, unless they come down to Crossroads, they don’t really have a food place like that,” Jariwala said. “So that should be the next goal, I think, is to create a late-night food source next to [Johnson Malone Weedon], Gooch Dillard and Hereford.”

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