Amidst major changes to the student meal plan, Dining Services has been busy over the summer with smaller renovations that will nevertheless shake students’ expectations of their favorite campus eateries. The bulk of the changes took place at the three main dining centers the Pit, Danforth Dining Center and Douglass Dining Center.
‘I think any returning student will walk into the Pit, Danforth and Douglass and say, “Wow, they’ve been busy this summer,'” Director of Dining Services and Auxiliary Operations Cam Schauf said.

Danforth underwent a number of considerable changes a precursor to a major renovation of the cafeteria that the University has planned for the next few years. A Mongolian grill was added to the front of the cafeteria, replacing the busy Wok station. According to Marketing Manager of Dining Services David Feist, this large round grill operates at a higher heat than the Wok and allows for faster, more efficient cooking.
‘You can make to order or do batches,” Feist said. ‘You can work on eight or nine meals instead of two at a time in the Wok station.”

The Home Zone station, a popular station that used to be situated in the front of the cafeteria, will move to the area where the Wok had been located. The improved Home Zone station now boasts a rotisserie oven, new menu options and is entirely gluten free. Schauf said that having the Home Zone station and the Mongolian grill on opposite sides of the cafeteria will help balance congestion and flow. Trays have been consolidated to one credenza located near the dish drop-off area. Finally, Danforth’s floor was reupholstered and its ceiling was redone.

Douglass also experienced a change in dcor, with new paint, counters, signage and easier-to-read menus above each station. The centrally located drink station has been moved against a wall. Also, there is a brand new vegan and salad bar. The pasta station has been moved to the location of the old salad bar, and there is a soup and Grab and Go station in the spot vacated by the pasta station. The steadfast Tortilla Fresca stand will offer new options, including nachos.

The Pit underwent similar changes to design and menu. After a long period of student requests, the Pit will begin serving hot breakfast at 8:30 a.m. This change comes on the heels of last November’s popular decision to open up the service area and toaster to early morning patrons, which Schauf said was in direct response to students’ demands for a place to eat in the morning on the south side of the River Campus. The new Pit breakfast will still be limited, but it will expand to a breakfast nook in the area that formerly housed the manager’s office.

The other services in the Pit will still open at 10:30 a.m. as before.

Also in the Pit, a new made-to-order salad station was added near the cashier, and the counter by GrilleWorks was pushed back to allow for speedier service.

As for the other eateries on campus, there were no major renovations over the summer. Starbucks and the Corner Store will stay the same.

The Corner Store is also part of the long-term renovation plans under the master plan, Douglass itself will be transformed into a much larger convenience and grocery store. However, as of now, the store has no room to expand, since it is surrounded by storage space, stairs and electrical wiring. Schauf says that no proposed solution is cost-effective enough to be implemented right now.

Schauf maintained that the focus this summer was on the major eating spots, and hinted at the future of dining at UR.

‘We’ve done a lot of little things over the last few years, but this year we wanted to focus on the three main dining centers,” he said. ‘Let’s dress it up for the people here now and then look at what we can do next.”

Upperclassmen arriving earlier this week experienced the first taste of the Danforth renovations.

While students gave overwhelmingly positive reviews of the food options, remarking on the variety and quality, the reactions to dcor were mixed.

Sophomore Sandi Cohen enjoyed the changes, but she added her hope to see more done in the future to the seating area.

‘It doesn’t match and it looks outdated,” she said.

Junior Dani Pearson and her field hockey teammates did not find the aesthetic improvements either important or radical.

‘It’s really not that big of a change,” Pearson said.

Several students eating in Danforth commented on the fresher food and better quality.
Cohen commented on the food she tried that was prepared on the Mongolian grill. She said it was better and healthier tasting than in previous years.

‘There’s a lot of variety, and there’s fresh fruits. The food is also made in front of you,” senior Jessica Rasmussen said.

Other students agreed that the food did appear fresher.

‘We’ve never had pre-season food this good,” Pearson said. ‘It looks like they’re putting so much more of an effort into the food.”

Wrobel is a member of the class of 2010.

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