UC and Sodexo unveil plans to renovate cafeteria
James McClendon, Editor-in-Chief
When students return from summer vacation, the college dining experience they know will be a thing of the past.
Working in collaboration with Sodexo, Utica College will be giving the Strebel Dining Commons a complete make-over. General Manager Damian Boehlert said he has been waiting to do something like this for a long time.
“There have been several small remodels, but nothing like this,” Boehlert said. “Everything except for the ceiling is changing.”
Graduation is Sunday, May 7. The very next day, the remodeling will begin.
Connor Architecture was responsible for overseeing the planning and creating the design, however, local sub-contractors will be used for each individual aspect of the construction.
The most exciting new feature will be the Wok 360. It is a multi-purpose station and will be located at the epicenter of the new cafeteria. The front counter of the Wok will be as long as the current serving line.
“Just that station alone is going to allow us to offer so much,” Boehlert said. “From made to order meals, to other items that will be cooked and ready to serve. That station is going to be very active and probably very popular.”
Sodexo has prided itself on preparing fresh food, but that process has been hidden from the dining hall patrons. With the newly designed space, most of the food prep will be brought out of the kitchen and onto the floor.
The new layout will allow for more fresh options, including a new brick oven for pizzas.
“You’re going to see that pizza coming out of the oven,” Boehlert said.
So now that the food is taken care of, diners will need a place to sit.
“The seating areas will be more diverse,” Boehlert said. “There will be booths, couches and a television on the second floor.”
A second beverage station will also be added on the second level, so students will no longer have to walk down the stairs for refills.
“The seating will be nothing like it is now,” Boehlert said. “We are not using any of the furniture that we currently have. Everything will be new.”
Sodexo and the college are working on this project together. Boehlert said he thinks it may be expensive, but believes in the long run it will be a huge asset for the college.
A culinary counsel, comprised of a diverse group of students, will meet once a month to talk about what changes they believe the student population wants to see made. This group will act as a link between students and management.
Boehlert has begun assembling this counsel, however, positions are still available. Students who join will be paid Pioneers dollars per meeting, based on how long the meetings are held.
“I would love to see students get involved,” Boehlert said. “We are constantly making changes based on student feedback.”