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Tuesday, March 5, 2024
The Observer

Campus Dining unveils renovated side of North Dining Hall

Students flocked to North Dining Hall (NDH) at mealtimes after Campus Dining unveiled the renovated north side of the facility Sunday morning.

Director of student dining and residences Scott Kachmarik said the revamped look of the dining hall — which includes booths, high top tables and several other varieties of seating options — serves as a preview of the Campus Crossroads project.

North Dining Hall hosts a test lunch Friday in its newly renovated north wing.
Sarah Olson | The Observer
North Dining Hall hosts a test lunch Friday in its newly renovated north wing.

“A lot of that is part of when you work with the University’s interior designer,” he said. “What’s interesting — and they were actually planning it — a lot of the style is what you’re going to see in the [Campus Crossroads] project. They’re like, ‘You guys are going to get to show it off first.’”

Kachmarik said he is happy with the new contemporary look of the dining hall, which combines modern interior design with a practical layout.

“I think [one] thing we’re hearing is it’s clean, it’s bright and people like the newness of it,” he said. “ … I think, though, in terms of what we’re hearing — what we wanted was, we wanted some feedback on the kind of overall things, but then we also wanted the feedback on making sure that we ensure that speed of service.”

Campus Dining tested the efficiency of the new setup by hosting multiple test lunches throughout the semester and asking for feedback from those who attended, Kachmarik said.

“The number one item that I think we’re going to have to figure out is we’re going to have to prepare students for the fact that there is no fro-yo,” he said. “ … As we live in this space for the next six weeks, even though it’s temporary, they’re going to give us, I think, some great feedback that we’ll then, hopefully, be able to incorporate in when we open in August.”

Chris Abayasinghe, the senior director of Campus Dining, said he is happy with the way the project has progressed so far.

“The NDH team, along with our committee composed of dedicated students, faculty and staff, worked closely on the various phases of the project,” he said in an email. “I'm pleased with the progress of the renovation and the investments being made in creating a dining experience that highlights the latest culinary trends and techniques.”

Kachmarik said his main goal is to keep students moving through the dining hall quickly before focusing on improving the menu’s variety.

“Right now, we’re actually in only one third of the serving [area], and we’ve maintained most of the menu,” he said. “So it’s really consolidated right now. And when you think about when we have the whole thing, it’s going to be really cool because we’ll have the different stations and a lot more options available. … So I will admit there’s less variety, there’s less choice, but I want to make sure we keep it speedy for the next six weeks. Because then, when we open up the whole thing, there will be lots of variety, and you’ll be able to get in and out pretty quickly.”

Kachmarik emphasized that despite the fact that services are moving into the renovated side, it is still not fully complete.

“On Monday, they’ll start the demolition and everything on [the south] side, and then we’ll go through finals, and then the entire dining hall will shut down,” he said. “And then, they’ll go back and they’ll start doing all this other stuff and work and everything that we have intended. It’s a lot of the detail stuff.”

The next step in the renovations, Kachmarik said, will be turning most of the south side of the dining hall into a lobby and building a new entrance on the east side of the building.

“There will be seating out there, lounge space, there [are] new restrooms that are going in and then we’ll actually have a marketplace,” he said. “So think about the current Grab ‘N’ Go — it will be in that corner, and we’ll have hot food and other things in there, as well. That whole lobby area will be something you’ll walk through, and we’re actually putting a new entrance in on the east side. … So you’ll start to see some work outside now, because they’ll start knocking out the wall in that corner to put the new entrance in.”

Kachmarik said the athlete-specific dining area will be discontinued next year.

“Training table, after this semester, will no longer be,” he said. “We are actually working with athletics and their dieticians, and what we’ll do is we will take their menus that they’ve been providing athletes, and put them out on the lines. Athletes and anybody [else] will now be able to eat those menus.”

Any hiccups in adjusting to the renovated side of the dining hall will be worth it when the entire project is finished, Kachmarik said.

“We just have to get through the next six weeks,” he said. “And then, in August, this place is going to be awesome.”