Since fall break, students may have noticed a black curtain covering some of the food stations in the Knorr Dining Room due to renovations.
Renovations were completed on the Passport and Forno stations of the Knorr Dining Room on Thursday, Oct. 24. The construction began over fall break and was carried into the following week, due to unexpected plumbing and electrical issues. The renovations came after Bon Appetit noticed deterioration in the countertops and decided to make other needed changes, including additions to the menu.
“What we wanted to do is add an additional hot and cold well to both sides of Passport, to provide two streams of traffic with the same experience,” said Bon Appetit General Manager David Apthorpe, adding that students will now be able to get their food more quickly.
According to Apthorpe, the original goal was to complete renovations before summer ended, but there were other projects that took priority, so Bon Appetit aimed for fall break. After beginning renovations on Wednesday, Oct. 17, the last day of school before fall break, Bon Appetit ran into some unexpected delays due to repurposing some of the older equipment, in addition to plumbing and electrical challenges.
The renovations took their toll on what students and faculty alike already perceived to be a heavily congested area.
“It’s a little congested at the other end,” sophomore Virginia Aabram said. “It’s a little confusing.”
Instead of evenly spreading out traffic across all sections of the cafeteria, all students were packed on one side.
“It’s clustered and then you throw everyone in the grill line,” said Cafe Manager Shane Powers. “There’s 300 people getting food in a half-hour period in a 50 square foot space, so things are a lot slower.”
However, Powers did say things are hopefully going much faster now that renovations are complete; there is also now a greater variety of food being produced.
“We put in two new pasta cookers, whereas before we only had one,” Apthorpe said. “The thought is that this could really be a good spot for a noodle station to do maybe a ramen station. That’s why we had the black and red bowls: They’re part of that thought.”
Apthorpe said Bon Appetit will gauge popularity of the pasta, and it could possibly become a weekly item, similar to Taco Tuesday.
Powers also mentioned there is talk of future expansion in the menu made possible by the renovations. He hopes to have stir fry, a pho station with different noodles, vegetables and miso broth, and maybe sushi in the distant future. He said Bon Appetit tries to cater to student’s evolving tastes and today that includes providing healthier options.
“We have a lot of meat and vegetables eaters here,” he said. “It’s a relatively healthy campus.”
According to Powers, french fries is the only fried item on the menu. He said the market area, which Bon Appetit expanded with gluten-free and vegan options, is very popular among students, and the salad bar is always packed with people.
The college funded all renovations after Bon Appetit recognized the need for renovations and brought it to the administration’s attention, Apthorpe said.
Although planning began before he came to Hillsdale, Powers said he has already observed that Bon Appetit and the college work well together in his short time here.
“Bon Appetit is always just good at renovating and changing things up in order to meet demand,” Powers said.