By Christian Herrera
The Habecker Dining Commons and the dining area in the Huntington Union Building will be renovated this summer. The $1 million makeover will be completed when students return in the fall, President Sherilyn Emberton, Ed.D., said.
Approximately 75 percent of the money will go toward the lower DC, 20 percent will go toward the second level and 5 percent toward the HUB, Greg Smitley, vice president for business and finance, said.
All figures are determined by Fetters Construction Inc. – the company that built other campus buildings like the Dowden Science Hall, Loew-Brenn Hall and Livingston Hall – and are subject to final construction estimates and contracts.
The renovations will be financed internally, Smitley said. Sodexo has partnered with the university to help with the funding.
“They are actually taking the lead on the project and getting the initial architectural rendering started,” Smitley said. “They’ll be helping us with some of the costs associated with some of the construction.”
The DC has not undergone any major renovations since it was built in 1990, Jerry Gressley, director of maintenance and physical plant, said.
“Since then and now, carpeting and painting is the extent of the touch ups,” he said. “It’s at that age in its life cycle where it needs a renovation.”
Renovations for the DC consist of “mostly cosmetics,” Smitley said. The university will reconfigure the serving stations to ease student traffic and promote easier accessibility, he said.
The beverage station will be moved in front of the dish drop “so it’s not so unsightly,” he said.
Part of the deli will be brought out to the main serving area, and the soup and salad bar will be moved out into the dining area alongside the dessert table.
“The whole point is to try to eliminate some of the congestion here so that people can move more freely to whatever station they want to go to,” Smitley said.
A winding cue line will also be integrated at the entrance, although it is subject to change as it has not been inspected to meet fire code standards, Smitley said.
Students can also expect menu changes, Blair Stairs, Sodexo food service director, said. Although a work in progress, changes include a “made-to-order-deli,” expanded pizza options, soup options and carved meats on a regular basis.
“The new design will enable us to offer a greater variety of foods, fresher products and better customer service,” Stairs said.
Junior Henry Maynard said the DC renovations are long overdue.
“Yes, the interior [of the DC] is tacky, and I would love to see it go as well as change the floor layouts and line situations,” Maynard said. “I also feel like 50 percent of the DC problems are the Sodexo work flow and concepts. … The DC is kind of out of date.”
Maynard also said food preparation could “be a little better.”
“I know most of the time we are out of seasons for fresh food, but I feel like they get cheap food to feed us,” he said. “They make it not look ‘yummy’ in a high-school-cafe-kind-of line.”
Smitley said they “try to stay connected to what students are telling about their student experience.”
“The food quality hasn’t been nearly as much an issue as accessibility to the food and getting to it in a timely way,” he said. “Essentially, [we want] more of an updated ambience as opposed to making it feel like a cafeteria when you were in high school.”
Gressley said everything is focused on student-use.
“What’s the most impact on the student body is what’s going to drive renovations,” he said. “I think right now, the lower level of the dining commons is really what’s driving all this project.”
Second floor renovations will mostly update the banquet rooms. Cosmetic updates include new light fixtures, carpeting, ceiling tiles, wall coverings, wall partitions and furniture.
The university will also install a coffee counter between Sub Connection and Pandini’s in the HUB.
“I think it’s essentially going to be a separate countertop, a separate retail area next to or at the end of the sub connection,” Smitley said. “But the plan is to have it where it’s its own distinct store front, if you will. … We are trying to incorporate a more full-fledged coffee café.”
Gressley said they want to change the HUB’s first floor in the near future.
“They’d like to change the lower level maybe and open that back up,” Gressley said. “Originally, the HUB – the lower level – was a big open area. There was seating, lounges, things like that. The upstairs is where the dining hall was. … I think there is some serious conversation. I haven’t been a part of those, but I think senior leadership is having some serious conversations about what they’d like to do at the HUB.”
Renovations will begin the week after graduation.