The golden age of 1 a.m. paninis may soon be coming to a close. But don’t emit screams of horror yet — this adjustment may be a small price to pay for what will come in their place.
Discussions have been ongoing recently, centered on redesigns of Hillside Café and Danforth Dining Center, both located on the first floor of Susan B. Anthony Hall on the River Campus. The transformation that will also include modifications to campus meal plans.
This isn’t the first time dramatic redesigns have occurred in the dining centers on campus — one can look towards the facelift of the Pit to the Commons last summer as a prime example. Hillside itself has also gone through changes in the recent past. It has served everything from pizza, quesadillas and omelettes to an ice cream bar.
These massive changes aren’t all happening at once by coincidence though.
“This renovation is part of our strategic plan to renovate all of our dining facilities,” Cameron Schauf, Director of Campus Dining Services and Auxiliary Operation, explained. “We started with the smaller coffee shops and cafés…then moved on to our larger facilities.”
This next transformation, however, consists of more than a simple menu change. The proposed renovations will include a complete overhaul of the Hillside and Danforth we know now.
If the proposal is approved, Hillside will shed its name and instead become a POD (Provisions on Demand), a chain of Aramark, such markets can already be found in other universities around the country, such as Brandeis University in Waltham, Mass. and the University of Toledo in Toledo, Ohio.
While the Press, which primarily serves paninis and salads, will no longer exist, there will still be a station of hot and cold food made on the premises that students will be able to eat in the facility where there will still be a seating area, or take back to their rooms.
A “recharge station” will also be present, at which coffee will be available for all of those late night emergencies, as well as cold beverages.
What makes this change truly significant, though, will be the introduction of a more grocery store-style environment and products, complete with a produce stand, and many grab-and-go options.
“We’ve been working for years on where we can put a bigger market,” Schauf said.
“We’re not building a Wegmans, but we’re not building another [convenience] store.”
Perhaps this change is coming at the right time.
“It’s not bad, it’s just old… I mean, Cinderella wasn’t in there cleaning,” a Hillside employee, who asked to remain anonymous, noted.
Danforth may also soon become unrecognizable. The main focus of this proposed renovation will be on the environment and improvement of the equipment of the dining area and work spaces.
One of the goals in the construction will be to make the space more accessible and pleasurable for both workers and customers. The use of chairs made entirely of recycled Coke cans and bottles will be employed, as well as graphics on the walls that relate to the Rochester community — apples from the Public Market, for example.
“All of our facilities have become quite dated,” Schauf noted. “The dining rooms are uncomfortable and the equipment and infrastructure is old and tired. We want to improve the atmosphere, quality of experience and quality of life for our employees and our customers.”
Many Danforth workers do believe that the dining center is a nice environment to work in.
“At times we could use more [employees],” Ron Washington, a Danforth employee, observed as his only complaint.
Schauf’s view is not atypical, though. John Sercu, another Danforth employee, agrees whole-heartedly. “I think things need to be updated severely,” Sercu said. “I just go, c’mon guys, this looks like, 1987 what are we doing here?”
Meal plans will also be experiencing revision. Gone will be the days of deciding between clubs or declining. A newly proposed meal plan will instead feature a universal option to replace clubs, with declining remaining as it is.
Under this new system, Douglass Dining Center will join Danforth in using a “residential” style for students to purchase food. (The Commons will continue to use a “retail” style.)
Students will be able to enter the area as many times as they please, even if they do not plan on eating, without worrying about the age-old problem of counting clubs.
“Students feel that they aren’t getting good value from their meal plans,” Schauf noted.
Junior Joey Schuman agrees.
“I think it’s a very bad system,” he said. “I think everything should be declining.”
The demolition trucks have not arrived yet though — there are no definite plans to begin as of now.
“Our plan is to have it all done by this summer,” Schauf maintained, but went on to explain that this timeline depends on whether an agreement on a workable budget can be reached, which should be determined by mid-February.
“If the next round of estimates is at or below budget, then we will move ahead with the renovation this summer. If we are over budget, we will have to reevaluate and possibly delay the project for a year,” he explained.
These changes, too, are a packaged deal, it seems. The new meal plans will not be introduced until the renovations are completed, so as to show a complete transformation.
Although it will be another enormous shift in Dining when completed, these renovations, designed in part for their flexibility, will hopefully improve the experiences of both working and eating for customers and employees.
Goldin is a member of the class of 2013.