Plans to renovate Kennedy Union’s dining hall were announced to the Student Government Association in its last meeting of the semester, Sunday, Dec. 6 in the Kennedy Union Ballroom.
After starting off the event with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, Paula Chambers, assistant vice president for auxiliary services—which includes but is not limited to dining and card services—addressed the room.
She explained how Marycrest was UD’s first major renovation, which was completed in 2008, and that elements from the Marycrest dining hall such as platforms for serving designated food and drink, 24/7 seating for studying and gated kitchens were all elements she wanted to integrate into KU’s new dining hall.
Construction will begin in July 2016 and is expected to take about a year to complete.
The entire project is estimated to cost $6 million, but Chambers told SGA that UD has been saving up and, with smart planning, will not fall into debt.
Today, KU is structured to accommodate students eating on the ground floor and faculty and staff eating on the first floor. As Chambers explained, the new KU will open up both floors to students.
The ground floor will look a lot like Marycrest with platforms, or micro-restaurants, where specific types of food will be served.
The new KU will feature four micro-restaurants: a Toss (for salad and fruit), a Grill, a Hearth (for pasta and pizza) and an Asian-branded venue. Each micro-restaurant will have a cash register, so students get to decide what they want, and each platform will serve full meals with healthy options.
Seating on the ground floor will be increased to seat about 500 people, and will be available for each micro-restaurant, matching the theme of each individual platform.
In addition to the individually themed seating, there will also be a main seating area for eating and studying and an outdoor seating area for the Grill venue.
The new ground floor will not have steps or levels, and the new elevator will be complete, so it will be more wheel chair-accessible.
As for the first floor, Chambers explained she is doing business with a company called Au Bon Pain.
The company is similar to the eatery chain Panera, serving baked goods and set up like a cafe, where students could go eat a full meal but also have a place to study.
Seating for Au Bon Pain would also be increased to seat 320 people.
When it is complete, the new KU will be able to seat a lot more people and offer a lot more food options.
Chambers said they hope to keep Au Bon Pain or other platforms open during the weekends, so students have more places to go eat and study.
While there are major renovations being made to KU’s dining hall, the rest of KU will stay untouched, so the hallways and the Hanger should be accessible.
As for where students, faculty and staff will eat during construction, plans have yet to be finalized. Chambers explained that many plans are still being worked out and open to suggestions from students.
Chambers said she has received permission to arrange for students to eat in Chaminade Hall and is also considering arranging food trucks to serve meals on campus, but could not confirm those arrangements at the meeting.
Chambers also said renovations should not affect KU catering, which will move to the River Campus kitchen because it is too difficult for catering to share a kitchen with the dining hall staff.
Workers in KU will be reassigned to the other dining halls on campus or to Chaminade Hall to serve food.
Finally, Chambers stated that UD has not gone public with its plans for renovation because the board of trustees has yet to finalize many of the plans, but that plans will officially go public January 2016.
“We hope to offer a cutting edge dining experience to our more sophisticated food savvy customers,” Chambers said.