Western Carolina University is currently undergoing an upgrade. One of the two structures being built on the lower campus is a new dinning facility.Mike Doppke and Rick Nicholson of Aramark, the university’s food provider, answered a few questions about the new dinning facility. The facility, which currently is unnamed, will be the first newly built dinning facility since Dodson was constructed in 1965. The new dinning hall will be a fusion of both dinning options on campus, all you care to eat and retail food options. Both options will accept declining balance dollars, Cat Cash, debit cards, credit cards, and cash. The building will be a stand alone two story facility. The second floor of the new facility will be a one price all you care to eat dinning section similar to Dodson’s current set-up. The second floor all you care to eat section will also accept block meal plans. The first floor of the new facility will have food options similar to the University Center cafeteria. The retail options that will be available will be McAlister’s Deli, Starbucks, Panda Express, Freshens, Zoca Mexican, Grill Works, and a convenience store. The choices of food options offered at the new dinning facility were chosen after extensive research involving students. Research began two years ago when the new dinning hall project was initiated. Student focus groups, reviewing of other universities’ dinning choices, and feedback from student service divisions on campus helped to decide what type of food choices students wanted and what the new dinning hall should offer. Food Strategy Inc., a university dinning consultant, was also hired to assist with the project. The information gathered by the Food Strategy Inc., student focus groups, and student feedback were reviewed once again to student focus groups and student organizations for agreement on the top choices and requests for the new dinning facility. “We tried to include as many of the top choices as the budget and space would allow” Mike Doppke of Aramark said. The cost of the new facility is an estimated 17 million dollars. The cost is being paid for by the university with income from dinning revenues and a construction fee. Initial hours of operation have yet to be determined but the second floor of the facility will be open all day. A plan has been proposed for both Starbucks and McAlister’s Deli to be open late in the evenings. Staff from Dodson Cafeteria will be moved to the new facility once completed. Students will also be employed at the new facility. “The exact number (of students) will be determined as we progress into the scheduling the hours of operation.” Mike Doppke said. Completion of the new facility has not been confirmed as of yet. Aramark is hoping for the facility to be completed by spring semester 2009. The actual date of completion will depend on weather and construction challenges.
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