Today Bob Jones University officially reopened the renovated student dining room of the Dixon-McKenzie Dining Common—the major dining facility on the BJU campus. The reopening marked the completion of the second and final phase of the $6 million dining experience makeover that began in 2010.
“My main goal for the project,” says BJU president Dr. Stephen Jones, “is to enhance our mission of student discipleship—to create a venue conducive to intentional faculty-to-student and student-to-student mentoring and discipleship and to student socialization. Additionally, I want to give our students a great dining experience by increasing food variety and healthy options as well as extended dining hours.”
The main dining room has also been renamed the Kalmbach Room in honor of the late Milton and Ruth Kalmbach of Ohio who loved BJU and what it stands for.
Starting in May, the main dining room underwent a metamorphosis from what has been called an “airplane hangar” to an inviting and comfortable campus dining location.
Three food-service pods now punctuate the large room. Drink stations have been consolidated to the center at either end, and a new drink station has been added to the middle of the room, in front of the tray return. Seating varies throughout the space: booths, under-balcony seating and smaller two- and four-person tables.
Phil Birney, a junior communication major, believes the new seating will facilitate more positive, meaningful student interactions. “It will allow groups of friends to grow closer together by allowing a more private atmosphere to their tables,” he says.
New flooring, freshly painted walls, newly installed decorative accents and the addition of Wi-Fi add more personality to the space. “The atmosphere will be dramatically more inviting and modern,” says Adam Summer, food service director of BJU’s Dining Services. “It will serve as a great place for fellowship for the entire BJU community.”
Emily Hummel, a senior chemistry major who works in the dining common’s bakery, further points out how the new layout will make the space much more inviting, especially to new students. “The old dining room was stark and huge,” she says. “And it could be very intimidating eating there at first, especially if you are not used to eating all your meals in crowds of hundreds or thousands. The changes will help new students feel more at home when they first arrive on campus.”
More Variety and Fresher Food
One of the key improvements to the new dining facility is the quality and variety of the food. Before every meal, commercial coolers within the pods will be stocked with fresh foods, such as meat and vegetables. The food will then be cooked as needed and kept in serving containers warmed by overhead heat lamps instead of the common steam treatment (which tends to overcook and dry out the food). “The ability to cook in the same space as we serve our consumers allows us to cook smaller, fresher batches of food and gauge food production needs more accurately,” says Summer.
The three new service pods each serve a full meal—meat, vegetables, fruit and dessert—in one of three food categories: American food (hamburgers, grilled cheese and other options), pizza and pasta (and other comfort foods), and international (various kinds of stir-fry and a new Mongolian grill). The new dining experience will also include a greater variety of healthy food options, as well as gluten-free choices and hot breakfasts.
Faster, More Convenient Service
Starting on Sept. 4, weekday dining hours will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., allowing for maximum flexibility and convenience for student schedules. In addition, a new evening meal option is now available on Sundays from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. and will offer salad, deli, pizza, pasta and soup options.
Grab & Go lunch also received an overhaul. The Growl in the Davis Field House now functions as the new location for Grab & Go lunch, offered weekdays from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. The new menu features a variety of sandwich options, including ham and Swiss on a honey whole wheat sub roll, turkey and pepper jack on 9-grain whole-wheat, and ham and Swiss on a tomato basil wrap. These lunches will also be available for purchase for town students and those not on the board plan.
As the new school year begins, Roy Hulehan hopes that the dining facility will become an even more important part of campus life. “We want [the dining common] to be a destination place, not just a place to eat,” he says. “We also want to create a comfortable location for relationship building, mentoring and iron-sharpening-iron experiences.”
Published August 30, 2013