The Hixson Union Building main dining hall is getting a face lift this summer. As many students on campus know, the current dining hall is being expanded toward Arend Hall. The expansion will cost $6.5 million dollars and will add another 220 seats and two new menu options to the space.
The addition will have two new eating formats as well as ground and mezzanine level seating.
There will be a new Italian option with brick oven pizza and pasta and an Asian flavored option called Global Connections.
“It’s set up for more international [style of food],” Sodexo General Manager Jim O’Brien said.
The shift in placement of pizza and Asian-inspired dishes frees up space in the original dining hall. The current international format will change to Mexican food. Students can also look forward to a hot sandwich option with toasted sandwiches and the Friday french dip sandwiches, O’Brien said.
The expansion will also incorporate an outside eating area in a new plaza-like outdoor space.
Additionally, students can expect new easy-to-read digital readout boards displaying the menu choices. There will also be a screen in the hallway before entering the main dining hall so students can see the day’s dining option.
“Really the student has much more variety,” O’Brien said.
The dining hall expansion is expected to finish the second week of May. “[The construction company] will go into the food court area and the main dining hall and remodel,” O’Brien said.
The remodel of the dining hall and connection of the two sections is expected to be finished by July 30. The updated dining hall, complete with new carpet, dishes, chairs and tables will be open to students fall 2012.
Summer conference and events will have to change their original dining location because it will be under construction.
“During the summer we will serve most of our meals in the Multipurpose Room,” O’Brien said.
Yet as campus waits for the new expansion to be unveiled, construction continues. Students who frequent the main dining hall have noticed.
“It’s annoying, and a bit of an inconvenience, but it’s not that bad,” junior David Farrar said.
Some students have simply gotten used to the hum of construction on the opposite side of the wall.
“I find the vibrations during construction quite soothing while eating,” sophomore Katie Gary said.
Yet Gary agrees with Farrar — she said the construction can be bothersome and in the way.
“It’s slightly obnoxious during the school year, but I totally understand,” she said.
Junior Jordan McCandless chooses to focus on the positive, namely the new food.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I’m particularly excited about the Italian section. I am a fan of Italian.”
Story by Caitlyn Starkey Staff Writer
Contact Caitlyn Starkey at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Graphic courtesy of whitworth.edu.