Changes to Taylor's Dining
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Next gen dining

Changes unveiled for DC and new Campus Center

By Becca Robb| Echo

Splashes of fresh paint cover the walls and new signs hang above familiar venues at the DC. When you grab a square white plate and drizzle marinara sauce over your pasta, you might forget that you’re standing in a college cafeteria.

“It’s destination dining,” Director of Dining Services Matt Riley said. “In a sense, we can think of each venue as a mini-restaurant. . . . We’re adding variety without adding hundreds of different venues.”

Taylor’s dining services are making changes in three phases, the first one already completed during the summer.

Phase 1 | Already completed

Most of the new venues are pre-established concepts from Taylor’s dining management partner, Creative Dining Services (CDS). Taquería, for example, is designed to offer Mexican cuisine.

However, Ciao Pasta is built from the ground up. Ciao combined and replaced the previous pasta line and build-your-own pasta venue.

“Before we had two pasta options that were okay, but now we’ll have one option that is great,” Riley said.

Ciao’s menu, designed by executive chef Meg Jeffers, intends to deliver Italian cuisine. Instead of using the same meat as the other venues, Ciao will provide its customers with Italian-cured meat.

To the right of Ciao is Homestyle. Though in the past it mainly provided Midwestern cuisine, the management plans to expand its menu in the upcoming weeks.

“‘Homestyle’ is different for all us of depending on where home is,” Riley said.

Several hooded grills stand in the northeast corner of the DC, carrying burger patties and hotdogs: the Corner Grille. Students can watch their food be prepared in front of them. When the Corner Grille is finished in the next several weeks, it will have broilers, flat-top fryers and deep fryers to cook specialty burgers and chicken sandwiches.

Students have expressed concern over not having grilled chicken available each day. The DC’s solution is to introduce a variety of proteins for students to choose from.

“In every area there will be a solid protein, so that chicken isn’t the only thing they have to rely on,” Crouch said. “We know a lot of the sports teams have to have their proteins and we wanted to give them other options other than grilled chicken.”

The DC made several changes less visible than the Corner Grille. Returning students may have noticed the new silverware chutes, but they may not know that the DC replaced its dish machine this summer.

”We had a very inefficient dish machine,” said Riley. “It had been there at least 20 years. We were having more and more issues . . . it was time to get a new dish machine.”

Riley estimated that the replacement cost about half a million dollars, with part of the cost attributed to replacing the floor and ceiling in the dish room. Funding for the dish machine came from the DC’s general budget and from maintenance funds set aside from the previous machine.

Phase 2 | To be completed over J-Term

When students return from J-term, they’ll enter a fully regenerated DC. Interaction Station will replace Chef’s Corner as a personalized cooking station, Nourish will replace The Well with its proposed nutritious and health-conscious options and Decker’s Deli & More will offer deli meats and sandwiches.

“It’s really to provide more variety and more dining options, and better thought-out dining options,” said Riley. “It will be more than just catch-all lines.”

The DC staff also plans to offer more options for those with special diets and allergies.

Jeffers is working to reduce allergens in all stations and especially in Nourish, which aims to always offer a gluten-free or vegetarian option. She said the DC is seeing more requests for gluten-free choices.

“Even people who aren’t gluten-free are wanting to eat that way, which I appreciate. But it can also be a higher dollar,” Jeffers said. “And we just can’t do that here. We need to take care of people who actually need to eat that food.”

Recently, the special diet cooler was removed from the dining room, but it is still available upon request. The DC plans to purchase a smaller cooler in hopes that it will help control portion sizes.

By Spring 2016, the DC intends to create an Allergy Awareness section offering dishes and treats for special diets. It will be located where the desserts are now, behind the northeast soda fountain.

Phase 3 | New Campus Center

Venues at the new campus center will include Chick-fil-A, Emma & Charlie’s (pizza and grinders), Fresh (salad bar) and noodle bowls (name TBD). Chick-fil-A will be a franchised restaurant, while the other venues are concepts from CDS.

Students may be able to use their meal cards to access items from each venue, as part of their pre-paid meal plan.

“It is my understanding there will be items in each area that a student will be able to build a meal from, much like they are doing now,” said Retail Manager Brenda Christian.

But not everything in the campus center will be new. The Grille will be moved into the LaRita R. Boren Campus Center and Taylor’s dining services is considering opening it up to all students, instead of only seniors and meal-transfer students.

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