With each new semester, students return to campus to discover the changes that have been made to improve their college experience. Dining services is no exception to these changes and has a slew of improvements ready to welcome the incoming students as well as to welcome back those who have returned.
The hours of operation for most of the dining halls on campus have been altered to fit student requests. The Upper Deck is now open from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m., to accommodate students with late classes or practices.
The Galley is now home to late-night meals during the week, from Monday to Thursday, in order to cut back on traffic in The Anchor. “It’s a larger space in The Galley; we have more equipment to be able to deliver a better menu, and hopefully we’re meeting that need,” said Nase.
Although the construction was moderately delayed on the expansion of Gordinier hall, Ed Nase, director of dining services, said he was happy to report that service at the Upper Deck has not been affected. Students may have a view of construction workers hanging shades in the new windows, but they are still able to make their waffles and eat their pasta on the weekends.
According to Nase, the majority of the reconstruction has been to the structure itself, including work on the HVAC and ventilation systems. The cosmetic aspects of the dining hall have also been updated. Due to the construction and the presence of the partition, the hall still isn’t back up to its full seating capacity with only 352 seats. The old and leftover furniture that has been displaced during the renovation is being rehomed to different buildings on campus.
The Campus Grill will soon also be under construction. The on-campus restaurant will be closing Oct. 17 and will be vacated by Dining Services. The space has been signed to a regional vendor, Saxbys Coffee, which is a self-proclaimed hospitality company based in Philadelphia. “It’s got key real estate,” said Nase. “It’s very visible.”
The company will accept Flex dollars and will assemble combinations of products to be used in exchange for meal swipes, similar to the system used in the Francine G. McNairy Library Starbucks.
Nase is not concerned about the possible competition between the two coffee companies that will now have residence on campus. “Hopefully we see an increase in overall volume to the campus in the terms of coffee business. There should be room for both,” said Nase.
Renovations for the cafe will begin in early November, with tentative plans to open to the public by the beginning of the spring 2017 semester.
Saxbys Coffee will be the only vendor opening on campus in the immediately foreseeable future. “There was a point where we were looking at [leasing The Bistro space]. Interest was very low,” said Nase. The Northside Bistro will be transitioning into a more formal style restaurant, similar to the Campus Grill. Though the ambiance of the dining hall will be similar to the Campus Grill, the Northside Bistro will not mirror the original concept; however, Dining Services is reported to be in the early stages of decision making for that transition.
In the meantime, Nase does hope to have The Bistro open again sometime this semester, once Dining Services is able to restaff the venue.
The Cove will remain relatively untouched during any changes to The Northside Bistro, but is also slated for expansion.
“We will most likely modify The Cove in some way next summer,” said Nase. Any changes to The Cove will be dependent on the demand for Dining Services on that side of campus.