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Wednesday, February 20,2013

OU to close two dining halls during renovations

By Elizabeth Cychosz
Photo Credits: Kevin Riddell/Athens NEWS
Photo Caption: The cupola on Jefferson Hall underwent renovations last November. This is not connected to the planned renovations to the East Green residence hall’s dining hall, however.

Two Ohio University dining halls are set to get a makeover within the next few years, completing a plan to overhaul the student dining experience on campus. Both Jefferson and Boyd dining halls will close their doors to diners within the next few years to make way for renovations.

"All of our renovations are to elevate the student dining experience and the student residential experience across campus," said Brian Thompson, director of auxiliaries for the university.

During the past few years, Culinary Services has implemented a six-year plan to redesign the way students dine, moving away from traditional dining halls to concept-based dining. In addition to general renovations, this means that students can choose to stand in separate lines for different cuisines, rather than one or two stations that change types of food day to day.

This new style, already implemented at Shively Court and Nelson Court on the East and South greens respectively, so far has been greeted with enthusiasm by the student population.

"As evidenced by the outstanding attendance and traffic within each of these venues, these renovated spaces have been very well received by the student population," said Dan Pittman, assistant director of auxiliary sales.

Although the West Green's Boyd is next in line to be renovated and will be in 2015, Jefferson, on the East Green, will not open when classes begin next fall.

Rich Neumann, director of residential dining, said Jefferson Dining Hall was closed because it receives much less traffic than the other dining halls. Jefferson serves 3,300 to 3,400 meals each week, whereas Nelson and Shively dining halls each serve more than that in one day.

"One of our charges is to be good stewards of students' money," Neumann said. "It's hard to justify from a business standpoint, keeping open an operation that is that underutilized."

Student employees of Jefferson Dining Hall will find jobs open to them at other Culinary Services locations if they decide to return next school year. They will be granted their choice of locations before the pool of new employees gets to pick.

Although this will solve the problem of these workers losing their positions at Jefferson, some employees would prefer to stay loyal to their workplace. "I like this dining hall the best," said Austin Bachand, a student worker at Jefferson Dining Hall. "I like it here. I like the atmosphere and the people."

Culinary Services has chosen to focus immediately on Boyd as a matter of balance between the greens. Shively and Jefferson are both on East Green, and Nelson is on South Green.

"We consider the approaching Boyd Dining Hall renovation, located on West Green, as the next logical area in the continuing evolution of Culinary Services' campus dining environments because it allows us the opportunity to provide each campus green with a renovated residential dining experience," Pittman said.

A year-long design and planning process for Boyd will take place next year, after which renovations will begin and are slated to be completed in 2015. During the planning process in the 2013-2014 school year, Boyd Dining Hall, Boyd Market and Boyd Grab 'N Go will remain open. Jefferson Market will remain open during the indefinite time that Jefferson Dining Hall will be closed.

Culinary Services, Residential Housing, Facilities Planning and Space Management will all collaborate for the designing and planning process. Additionally, the student-led Culinary Services Development Committee will be involved. In the past, this organization has given insight into the desires of the student population, prompting, for example, additions such as the new South Side Espresso Bar in Nelson Court. At this point, Thompson said, it is premature to predict what the completed renovations for either dining hall will look like.


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