Dining renovations bring new experience for students, staff

Campus News, News, Student Life

Since Aladdin’s arrival in August 2018, changes and renovations have been on the horizon for both One Main Cafe and the Main Dining Room (MDR). Over summer break, these renovations were completed, giving One Main and MDR a fresh look and better functionality.

The improvements, which were part of Aladdin’s contract, were completed early in the summer and hope to address many functionality problems, according to Assistant Food Service Director, Elizabeth Hernandez.

Liz Hernandez oversees all dining on campus, including

“Mainly, we changed old stations,” Hernandez said. “We have new equipment, cabinets, we switched from plastic to real china, added lighting, booths, new chairs and tables, and changed the salad bar to be able to have more healthy options.”

The improvements range from cosmetic to functional, some for students to see and some for staff to use.

The changes for students include the addition of large, round booths for group seating, bar-style seating along the window wall, new chairs and tables, and better dinnerware. 

The Mezz Fitness windows facing MDR now have pictures featuring students, cutting down on the awkward staring between people eating and working out.

“It makes it a lot easier for us to have equipment that works all the time, we have efficient equipment now,” Hernandez said. “We wanted things to function easier for our staff and have much better service for the students.”

With new, versatile equipment, staff can hope to see an easier, smoother work experience.

Some of the changes included updating lighting and the salad bar, pictured here.

Other renovations included creating an allergen-friendly kitchen meant to provide better options for those with dietary needs, with precautions to prevent cross-contamination. The station offers accommodations like dairy-free cheeses and gluten-free bread.

“We have our own utensils and equipment there, nothing leaves the station, and we have staff who run the station,” Hernandez said.

Dining has switched from last year’s meal plan structure of one meal per meal period. Now, students have the freedom to use their swipes without any restrictions. Other changes to meal plans include being able to use meal swipes and dining dollars on Starbucks drinks.

One Main Cafe got a complete kitchen makeover, creating a fully functional restaurant kitchen.

“It wasn’t looking like a kitchen before, the only [functional] thing we had was two coolers,” Hernandez said. “It wasn’t functional, we had a small grill so we could only do so much at a time. Now we have a bigger kitchen, we have chef’s tables, two flat-tops, and an industrial oven.”

This change will also lead to a minor menu change coming in a month.

Outside of the kitchen, the self-order tablets that were previously in the dining room are now functional. A wall was added to hold the grab-and-go coolers, with bar-style seating on the opposite side of the wall. Cosmetically, One Main hasn’t changed much, but the efficiency is expected to greatly increase due to the upgrades in the kitchen.

For students who got to see dining before and after, the changes stand out.

“I actually had to get used to it,” sophomore Barry Warfield said. “We’re creatures of habit and it took a second to adjust to the new layout.”

Warfield said that once he got used to the changes, he liked and agreed that the changes are beneficial.

Barry Warfield, left. Jenna Hopkins, right.

While many think the changes look good, actual functionality is questioned.

“Honestly, the food tastes the same,” sophomore Jenna Hopkins said. “The booths in MDR are nice, but they take up a lot of space, so it gets crowded really quickly. I do like the self-order tablets though; I think they help cut down the long line.”

Freshman Elijah Bates wasn’t on campus to see pre-renovation dining, but thinks that the atmosphere is nice.

First year Elijah Bates didn’t see pre-renovation dining, but thinks the changes are effective based on his experience.

“I think there’s enough options and it’s big enough,” Bates said. “It’s a comfortable environment and the food is better than high school.”

For more information about dining hours and services head to dining’s website, or for more information about Aladdin read our article about Aladdin’s arrival.

Julie Smallsreed

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