The Students’ Association’s Town Hall Meeting Series concluded Wednesday night with a presentation on dining in the University. Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf spoke about the changes to University dining so far this year and updated plans for the future. Schauf outlined extensive future renovations to Douglass Dining Center, Danforth and Wilson Commons, as well as new facilities next year, including a Starbucks in the Hive.

Student surveys on dining showed that students care about better value for their money and higher quality foods. Dining services has been working to achieve these goals by instituting changes both on and off campus. This year they have introduced an increased variety of coffees, worked on promoting healthier options by providing nutritional information around campus and developed “healthy eating” programs.

The URos program, which allows students to use their ID cards off-campus, has been a success, increasing the amount of URos spent off campus from $3,500 to $16,500 from November to February. Schauf is working on expanding the program, which is currently offered in only a few locations, including the Distillery, CVS and Mt. Hope Diner.

“We are actively working with a number of businesses to get them involved in the fall,” Schauf said.

Schauf spoke at length about a number of major changes over the next few years, the first of which is a deal with Starbucks that was recently completed. The Starbucks is going to take up the entire area that is currently the Hive, including the Meliora Express. It is going to be a full caf, with all of the amenities and menu items of a normal Starbucks, all of which will be declinable.

The arcade outside of the Hive is going to be converted into a lounge. The Common Ground will be converted into a game room, which will hold arcade games from the arcade and pool tables from the Hive.

Schauf is excited about the Starbucks and listed numerous reasons why it is a good fit for the University.

Starbucks ranked fourth on the list of businesses that students wanted for the URos program, behind CVS, the Distillery and Pellegrino’s. Schauf said that it is a strong brand that is proven to improve sales on college campuses and that it adds another option for students.

“Now you can make choices about where you want to go and what you want to have on a given day,” he said.

Schauf hopes that the new eating area created by Starbucks and the lounge will draw additional people into Wilson Commons and persuade them to stay.

“The new eating area will help to create more of a ‘living room’ feel in the center of the building,” he said.

In order to replace the Meliora Express, which is one of the only vegan facilities on campus, Schauf said that the new Danforth take-out option and the vegan/vegetarian station in Douglass are good current alternatives.

Dining Services is in the planning stages of bringing an Einstein’s Bagels to Rush Rhees Library, probably in the Internet Technology Center. It will be in the same general area where the ITS Cart is located and will offer bagel sandwiches, sweets and Grab and Go food. However, the plan is not guaranteed at this point. Dining services is in talks with the company and the University.

“We’re still working on getting the space that we need to work with,” Schauf said.

Schauf spoke about long-term changes to Douglass, Danforth and the Pit that may not benefit current juniors or seniors. Danforth will encounter the most extensive change. The entire area will be renovated and converted into a more comfortable, attractive eating space.

The new space will bring the kitchen out into the open so students can see their food get made. The food stations will curve around the center of the room with two raised sitting areas on either side. The tables will be smaller, seating only four, but they will push together easily.

The main goal, according to Schauf, is to make Danforth a more comfortable and desirable place to be.

“We want it to feel like a living room – a place people can hang out,” he said.

The Pit will be renovated, as well. Responding to market research, Schauf hopes to make lines shorter, decrease crowds and increase food variety.

The plan is to rearrange the Pit so that students can enter right outside Common Ground, streamlining the traffic. The grill station will be reworked, and there will be a new Fusion Station where the office is currently located. The station will include both stir-fry and sushi.

Douglass is going to be transformed into a marketplace, similar to a small Wegmans. It will replace the Corner Store and hold a much wider variety of items. There will also be a Cranberry Farms station, which Schauf related to Boston Market, and a hot/cold bar.

Schauf mentioned other future and potential plans, including a caf in the BME/Optics Building that will open this spring, a possible “Bleeker Street Caf” outside of Carlson and his desire to change the club and declining system.

Although he has only worked at the University for two years, his office has succeeded in vastly improving the dining system. He is confident that the new facilities will positively transform the dining experience.

“As we make these changes, it’s going to change the way people eat,” he said.

Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.

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