Today, the popular food truck Soi No. 9 opened for business in the UTHSC Food Court, its first brick-and-mortar location. It joins local vendors Coletta’s, Southern Hands, and Power Life Smoothies & Eats on the UTHSC campus.
Soi No. 9 is located in the space previously occupied by Power Life Smoothies & Eats. Power Life Smoothies & Eats will move to the Student-Alumni Center.
“I’d like to think that this is our deliberate strategy to make the campus more comprehensive,” said Ken Brown, JD, MPA, PhD, FACHE, UTHSC’s executive vice chancellor and chief operations officer. “The Madison Building isn’t the nucleus of the campus. Lots of students are on the west end of the campus. We have the Cancer Research Building, the Translational Science Research Building, we’ve got a significant campus population on that end of our campus and we want to make things convenient for them too.”
UTHSC embarked on a unique partnership with the opening of the Food Court in January, directly franchising with local food vendors in order to bring them to the medical district, including Soi No. 9 owner Tim Vimonnimit.
Vimonnimit, who grew up in Thailand, started cooking when he was just six years old with his mom. He moved to Memphis in 2000, and gained culinary experience throughout the years working at various restaurants, before returning to Thailand to pursue culinary training. He opened the Soi No. 9 food truck with his wife, Mai Mittrakul, which made a name for itself in the local community by serving a traditional menu of Thai street food using healthy cooking techniques – steam, little oil, and fresh herbs – to flavor dishes.
“We thank Dr. Ken Brown for giving us the opportunity to move into UTHSC,” said Vimonnimit. “Now we can be at UTHSC, the first location for us not in a food truck. We are very excited.”
Through the model, campus administrators can assess the needs of its faculty, students and staff, which allows opportunity for the business model to branch out to other areas of the campus. Identifying a need for a food vendor to be located on the western edge of the campus, UTHSC partnered with Power Life Smoothies & Eats to relocate them to the second floor of the Student-Alumni Center on 800 Madison Ave.
The Student-Alumni Center has not had a food vendor, outside of food catered for events, in the facility in over 20 years.
Power Life Smoothies & Eats, which serves several health food options including its popular smoothies, is well-suited for the Student-Alumni Center location due to its proximity to Campus Recreation, which is housed in the same building.
Power Life Smoothies & Eats will open in the next several weeks.
The Student-Alumni Center will also see additional changes including the opening of a new Mind Body Wellness Center, led by director Kimberlee Strome. The center will focus on UTHSC’s continued priority of providing wellness services for students, faculty, and staff. The center is slated to open in the next couple of months.
“Power Life Smoothies & Eats is a healthy eating choice, they can do vegetarian, they can do vegan,” said Dr. Brown. “We think it will thematically support what we are doing at the Student-Alumni Center. They (Power Life Smoothies & Eats) were the perfect choice to move down there. Above and beyond just opportunistically putting food service there, it’s the right food service.”
As the campus moves through other construction projects including renovations to the Historic Quadrangle, there are plans to have a food service on that side of campus. Dr. Brown said, “We want to make it convenient for everybody. You can get different variations of menus without going off campus.”