Cafeteria renovations to commence shortly, set to turn heads
On the first day back next semester, students are going to have a difficult decision to make — which food station to visit first.
Should it be a stop at the Flying Star Diner for a hamburger, or straight to the 360 Degrees station where the meal is cooked and assembled as you watch? Or maybe a handmade sandwich on freshly baked bread at Basic Kneads, paired with a salad or another healthy option from the Wild Mushroom, sounds more appetizing. If you feel a desire to try international dishes, pick from the cultural cuisine offered at Magellan’s, or grab a pizza or stromboli from Bella Trattoria.
The plans for LaCasse Dining Center are set to begin on May 16, the day after finals end for students. The new design will offer six new food stations with a variety of options for the Le Moyne community to choose from.
“The renovation of this space is overdue,” said Roger Stackpoole, vice president of finance and administration. “But the new space will be every bit as impressive as the new Dolphin Den or Pub, if not more.”
Only 86 days span from the beginning of excavation to the expected completion date of August 10.
“We’re going to get right in at a run, definitely not a walk,” explained Jim Dishaw, director of facilities management and planning.
The design plans involve demolishing and rebuilding some of the walls in the current cafeteria, replacing the flooring with ceramic tile and installing new kitchen equipment.
Although most projects would not be attempted in such a short amount of time, the overseers of this job are confident in the ability of the Physical Plant and outside contractors. Dishaw believes that although there is “no wiggle room,” the project will definitely be completed on schedule.
Stackpoole explained that he and his associates “worked hard to understand that there was the right balance” in cost so that the $3.3 million price tag would not affect the students any more than the normal yearly increase in tuition, including meal plans. The school received an outright gift from Sodexo of $455,000 toward the renovations, as well as making investments in the project. Through the careful planning of financial advisors and the gifts from Sodexo, the college will come out of the project debt-free.
The new layout, designed by the same company in charge of the Plaza construction, will offer many seating options ranging from eight-person booths around the perimeter of the area to two- or four-person tables.
There will also be numerous bar-style single seats that give students a chance to order their food and watch the chefs prepare it for them, or to sit by themselves to enjoy a meal.
“Having one- or two-person seating will be really convenient,” says Natalie Del Prete, a sophomore management and leadership major. “It’ll be better now because large tables won’t be taken up by smaller groups with nowhere else to sit.”
Seating will not be the only new thing in the cafeteria; the chefs will now cook to order at many stations and they must undergo training in how to use the new equipment. Instead of having the food fully prepared behind the scenes in the kitchen, chefs will now have more interaction with students and therefore will also take part in customer service training during the summer.
According to Jim Ruoff, general manager of the cafeteria, this constant contact between chefs and students will create more solid relationships, which could contribute to a stronger sense of community.
Le Moyne’s dining services are also strengthening their support of community goods by continuing to provide students with local Byrne Dairy milk as well as locally grown produce; this includes the use of produce from the garden outside the cafeteria. Sodexo will continue to provide food to the school, but the style of food will change since chefs can now cook to order.
“I think students will like the food better,” explained Kathleen McCarthy, a sophomore who served on the Student Dining Advisory Board. “Having it be fresh and made right in front of you makes it seem to taste better.”
The recently-implemented services will also be continued after renovations. Ruoff noted that composting will continue, “but needs community buy-in to work.” He urges students to be careful of what they put into the disposal bins to make it more successful. The Simply To Go station outside of the cafeteria will remain in the same place without any changes.
“I love how the college is making so many substantial investments in the buildings,” said Dishaw. “It makes [Le Moyne] an even greater place to come to school.”
When students come back at the end of August, they should be ready to make some tough food-related decisions.
“We know it will be a learning curve,” said Mr. Ruoff of the changes. “But it will be a fun learning curve.”
To follow the cafeteria more closely, be sure to “like” Le Moyne College Dining on Facebook for weekly photo updates during construction and daily menus after completion.