Administration, staff, students and Sodexo representatives worked together to plan the renovation, which occurred in two phases over two summers. Several concepts emerged as the team consulted with local design firm JM Holliday Associates.
Randy Jones, Westmont campus planner, said they wanted to create varied experiences for the daily diner, improved circulation and a display cooking station.
“Students can now choose from a variety of seating options,” Jones said. “Those who want interaction and activity can dine at the large communal tables in the center of the main dining room. The Monroe Dining Room offers a quieter experience. The new lounge to the right of the entrance provides a casual atmosphere for eating or waiting for friends. Of course, they can always eat outside on the patio.”
The dining stations have been placed at the perimeter of the room, similar to a food court.
“If you want salad and soup you head to one area; for Mexican food, you can go to another,” Jones said. “This spreads out traffic, and the facility is small enough that you can visit all the stations quickly, especially if lines are shorter.”
Another unique feature is a display cooking station in the center of the front counter, where chefs will cook in woks as customers watch.
“This provides a sense of fresh, cooked-to-order food that students have requested,” Jones said, adding that students will most appreciate the variety of choices in the renovated commons. “They may also subconsciously notice increased light and improved acoustics in the main dining room.”
A significant capital contribution from Sodexo made the renovation project possible.
— Scott Craig is the media relations manager for Westmont College.