Dining services, made to order
The smell of sawdust and paint replaced the usual culinary aromas in the Valley View Room, on the second-floor cafeteria in the Sorenson Student Center. Downstairs, the banging of hammers and whining of saws replaced the sounds of the kitchen, as two restaurants undergo construction.
The petition for a remodel of the Valley View Room started nearly three years ago, was finally approved in April, 2010, says Director of Dining Services Val Brown. A new salad bar will alleviate the congestion caused when food items are refilled; new sneeze-guards will provide customers with a better view of employees as well as food; confusion about where to stand while waiting to place and pick up orders will be mitigated with the new design.
The current projects are expected to be completed by August, before the fall semester begins. Students will see a new selection and presentation of food options, and can expect to see more changes during the fall semester. The Valley View Room is being remodeled to better accommodate patrons and employees, and two of the restaurants in Centre Courte are being replaced. Surveys about food preferences and other feedback from students regarding dining services play a large role in these and other planned changes.
La Pointe and Hogi-Yogi will both be removed, and replaced with Costa Vida and Subway, respectively. These changes, like those in the Valley View Room, are scheduled to be completed prior to the commencement of the Fall Semester.
Next on the list, says Brown, is Pizza Hut, which will replace The Italian Café, then Wendy’s, which will take the place of Fresh Wraps and the Courte Side Grill. Teriyaki Stix and JFE Sushi Bar will remain part of Centre Courte. The details of these changes are still being worked out, but Brown says that tentative plans for fall break construction are looking promising.
Unlike past arrangements with the restaurants in Centre Courte, these new restaurants will be independent from the university, instead of being owned by the school as a franchise. This change will minimize the financial burden on the university to bring in what the students want.
Other upcoming changes planned by Brown, also spurred by student feedback, include rewriting the Valley View Room menu, posting nutritional information about the items served, and adding a health and wellness section to the Valley View Room this fall.
After 17 years directing the department, Brown still encourages feedback from students and faculty alike, and invites anyone with an opinion about how the department is doing to email him directly with feedback. “In order to make things work well, we have to serve our customers. We have to be people-oriented,” Brown says. “We serve food to the people, but we serve people through the food we make.”
by Jeff Jacobsen – Life Writer