By: Hailey Wood, Staff Writer
Next summer, Brooks Dining Hall is getting a facelift.
In a recent email conversation, Sodexo General Manager Tadd Stone said, “This renovation will completely modernize our facility and add some new and diverse cooking platforms including a proposed Mongolian Wok, Health and Wellness Station, Open Kitchen Grill Concept, Gas Fired Pizza Oven, International Cuisine Station and a Made to Order Deli concept.”
Call it a major facelift. The plans are still being finalized and Sodexo would like to hear from you.
On Dec.11, from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m. students are invited to join Sodexo managers to walk the dining facility and have a conversation about special dietary needs and dining preferences.
On December 12, from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. students can join Sodexo staff and Mark Connor, the architect in charge of designing the new dining hall, in a whiteboard brainstorming session. “All ideas are welcome,” said Stone.
Student feedback, Stone said, has been a “major push behind these renovations.” For years, he said, Sodexo has been gathering student feedback through online surveys, community culinary forums, texting platforms and one-on-one meetings.
According to Stone, the time the fall semester begins, the job is to be done.
Vegetarians, vegans and people with food allergies were kept “front of mind” during the design process, said Stone. “Two stations specifically are being reimagined to ensure that students with dietary restrictions are able to have a safe meal without fear of cross contact,” he said.
One of the two stations, Simple Servings, Sodexo is taking into special consideration, “a concept that is free of seven of the top eight allergens, will have its own equipment that will only be used for preparing these meals,” Stone said.
The other station is called MyZone. Stone describes it as, “A food pantry that is free of gluten and dairy, will have its own space that will be accessed by card swipe, ensuring that students can prepare these types of meals free of concern about cross contamination of their equipment they will use.”
Brooks Dining Hall will also be undergoing a “complete overhaul of the design aspects including new flooring, signage, wall graphics, paint and furniture,” Stone said. “The overall project will provide increased seating capacity to help accommodate the increase in residential students and community members who use the dining facility.”
“Brooks Dining Hall has not had a major renovation in recent history,” Stone said. “While it has served its purpose as a dining facility over the years, dining platforms are always changing.”
Stone explained some of the other the new changes in mind for the design of Brooks. “Rather than a facility that offers a standard buffet line, as was a standard in recent years, the renovation will help to develop a dining facility that will be designed more as a neighborhood with many different stand-alone dining concepts.”
Students will have this new dining experience when they return to USM in the fall semester of next year.
Preliminary architectural renderings will be available at the Dec. 12 open forum session. “We highly encourage the community to attend and see the proposed renovations and offer input to be taken into consideration as we move forward,” said Stone.
Photo description (not part of article)
The layout pictured is a first draft concept design and that it will be reviewed and updated based on feedback by the USM Community.