Just a short trip through the orange groves leads to the Orange Grove Bistro, a place on campus where it is possible to eat gourmet food.
“It’s almost like a little getaway in the middle of campus,” said Sherri Warren, Orange Grove Bistro’s catering manager of two years, who corrected herself and said the restaurant was technically on the east side of campus.
The restaurant, a humble building with a green roof and an orange sign, is located in the center of the orange groves off of Nordhoff Street and Lindley Avenue across from the new parking structure G3.
Syedah Davison, a host and server at the bistro, found out about the restaurant’s existence through a job listing on the CSUN Web site. When dropping off her application, Davison could not locate the bistro, and she had to look on a map.
“It was literally less than two minutes to find,” Davison said. “When I was on campus, I had no idea.”
Davison, a nursing major, has worked at the bistro for about a year now, and she thinks the reason many people do not know about the restaurant is because students often don’t venture out to the east side of campus.
“Even people off campus don’t know where it is,” Davison said. “We get calls all the time.”
The second day of a faculty retreat took place here on Wednesday, and around every corner servers and hosts dressed in black uniforms and aprons helped set up.
Orange Grove Bistro, now 41 years old, was originally funded and built by faculty members at CSUN, Warren said.
“In its conception, this was strictly a faculty club,” Warren admits, but since 2008, when she arrived, there has been more of a push toward student-friendliness.
In fact, the restaurant manager Sally Adelblue, and Warren, advertised to various clubs, sororities and fraternities around campus, offering free rooms for events, Warren said.
“So many people don’t realize they are allowed to come,” she said. “Especially students.”
There are many dishes on the menu: Jamaican Jerk Shrimp Papaya Salad, $10.95, “The Works” Burger, $8.95 and Far East Chicken Salad, $9.95, are just a few examples. Along with this, there is a lunch buffet Wednesday through Friday for $10.95.
Though surrounded by orange groves, Warren said the restaurant only sometimes uses the oranges grown on-site. It all depends on the time of year, she said. Warren added she does not use the vegetables from university gardens, because she was not aware of their existence.
“We try to use produce from companies close by,” Warren said. “And we primarily use local products.”
Davison explained that many different occasions are celebrated at the restaurant, including weddings, baby showers and retirement parties. The bistro also caters to many events on campus, such as department meetings, student functions, alumni gatherings and graduation.
“When graduation week comes, it gets really busy,” Davison said.
Patricia Rebulard, a 22-year-old French and Spanish major and CSUN Ambassador, said she was in her father’s car driving to freshman orientation when she first spotted the bistro.
“I saw oranges and then there was kind of this building in the middle of it… a restaurant,” Rebulard said.
Rebulard also noted that upon observation, she thought it was a very upscale, fancy place.
Warren said this is a common misconception, and many people think the bistro is too high-end and unaffordable. Her goal is to make the restaurant a place everyone can be comfortable frequenting, she said.
The restaurant is part of the large network of food establishments under the University Corporation, and as such, Warren said the bistro supports CSUN in its endeavors.
“When you dine with us, it stays right here on campus,” she said.