By Brandon Chase – Managing editor
After more than a year of planning, waiting and construction, the newly-renovated Valentine Dining Hall opened its doors to all students for the first time on Sept. 3.
The new design is quite a departure from the old cafeteria, with amenities such as a fireplace at the main entrance, updated furniture and a new “sports grille” in the 1851 room which is home to 11 new flat screen TVs.
“You have a warm feeling when you walk in because of the fireplace. Everyone is so excited [for the new renovations],” said Sodexo’s General Manager of Dining Services Mairead Van Heest.
Van Heest said a combination of focus groups and surveys aided in the design process of the new dining hall. The serving stations were redesigned to provide more interaction between the server and patron, so that each worker assigned to a station is facing the person they are serving.
New changes to food locations include a Mongolian wok for stir-fry dishes formerly occupied by the grill and a brick oven pizza station at the entrance to the 1851 room. One of the biggest changes to dining options is the sports grille, which will become Boomer’s Late Night Grill after regular dining hall hours. It will be open from 7:30 p.m.to midnight on weekdays and from 1 p.m. to midnight on weekends. Students can use the Dining Dollars on their meal plans to purchase items that were once located at the Campus Center grill. A new option for fresh subs and flatbread sandwiches, complete with a toasting oven, is now available at the Campus Center.
“I think it looks great and the new food choices are a lot better,” said sophomore Samantha Mackie.
Van Heest said the food will be fresher, thanks to the renovations allowing it to be cooked in an open environment.
“We always used fresh products, but you didn’t see it [being prepared]. The food is the same, but different techniques are being used.”
Seating arrangements have been updated to include larger booths and a lounge where the faculty dining area was once housed.
Parts of the new renovations allow Valentine to increase its sustainability. Each chair, both for the tables and bar-style seating arrangements, is made from more than 100 recycled Coca-Cola bottles.