May 2, 2006

Pierce dining hall to receive $500,000 facelift

Dining administrators yesterday presented plans for an Aramark-funded, $500,000 renovation of Pierce dining hall slated for the summer.

Sherry Gutman, deputy dean of Housing and Dining, said Pierce was targeted for renovation because the dining hall had consistently ranked lowest in house surveys.

Aramark will fund the renovation in the hope that it will “stop people from leaving the meal plan when they leave housing,” Gutman said.

Richard Mason, director of Dining and Housing Services, said more of the cafeteria-style bars will be changed to “cook-to-order” stations, and most of the equipment will be replaced with newer machines.

“We want it to not be as congested so they can provide quality food,” Mason said. “A lot of it’s really about trying to put better food on the plate.”

“The equipment here is early 20th century,” Gutman said. “If you look at Center Stage right now it’s a makeshift operation,” she said, referring to the cook-to-order booths that occupy the center of the serving area.

The drink bar will have two sides, one of which will face the seating area so students can get drinks and refills without re-entering the serving area.

The planned configuration of the food bars is designed to better organize the flow of diners and kitchen staff.

“Right now a staff member actually has to get in line to fill the salad bar,” Mason said.

Refrigerators will be added near the salad bar, the wall between the serving area and the kitchen will be knocked down, and the exit to the seating area will be moved to the side of the serving area, according to renovation plans.

Glass walls will replace the wood walls that divide the kitchen and the seating area in order to “change the lighting and look,” Gutman said.

This will be the second time Pierce dining hall has been renovated since it was built in the 1960s. It was a “galley kind of dining hall” where food was served by lunch ladies using ladles until 1990, when it was renovated to become the self-service cafeteria currently in use, Mason said.

Administrators hope the renovation will close the gap between Pierce and the revamped dining hall that will open south of the Midway in 2008.