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North Dining Hall to undergo extensive renovations

| Thursday, September 29, 2016

WEB 20160927, 20160927, North Dining Hall, Rosie LoVoiRosie LoVoi | The Observer

Though it will not fully close, North Dining Hall will undergo a major renovation this year to replace old equipment and infrastructure, expand seating and create a new entrance facing Mod Quad, campus dining staff told student senate Wednesday night.

The renovation will begin after fall break and last through next summer.

Director of campus dining Chris Abayasinghe, director of retail dining Luigi Alberganti and director of student dining Scott Kachmarik presented the plans to the senate at its weekly meeting. 

“North Dining Hall was last renovated in 1988,” Kachmarik said. “It is due for an upgrade.”

Kachmarik said the main work would be on the design of the dining hall.

“We are going to open all [the food area] up; we are going to knock down the walls,” Kachmarik said. “That is the bulk of what will be happening.”

Additionally, pipes will be replaced, some kitchen equipment will be changed, and ceiling and lighting fixtures will be switched out. The renovations will also address an occasional odor behind the hall. 

“It will be gutted in a similar way to what Walsh Hall is right now,” Kachmarik said.

There will also be a new entrance on the building’s east side for people coming from Mod Quad dorms and Flaherty and Dunne Halls, Kachmarik said, and the existing main entrance will see restrooms, a new look and location for Grab ‘n Go with the possibility of a convenience-store setup, as well as a common space before students swipe in. 

Kachmarik said the dining hall will have a “modern” look, with tables of different sizes and heights. 

The dining hall would remain open throughout the process except during fall, winter and spring breaks, Kachmarik said.

“We will do all of this while we continue to serve you,” he said. 

Kachmarik said the first planned target of renovation is the pasta and pizza sections. Larger areas, and more of the seating space, will be tackled during the first few months of the second semester, from about January to March.

“We will rotate through food in the sections that we have open,” Kachmarik said, “Hopefully it will not be too much difference from a menu standpoint.”

Abayasinghe said the renovations will be completed over the summer, and the finished dining hall will open Aug. 1.

“I will be very up-front with you — it’s going to be tight,” Abayasinghe said. “That’s why we need your help to communicate with the students about what is happening.”

Senate parlimentarian Monica Montgomery congratulated the presenters on updates to the dining services website, as well as a more active Twitter account.

“That would be a great place to start from, for communications,” she said.

“We are going to have to communicate things on the fly,” Kachmarik added. “It sounds like that will be our best tool for getting updates out quickly, like if the workers accidentally knock the water out while working on the pipes, we need to have a way to communicate that immediately.” 

St. Edward’s Hall senator Corey Gayheart suggested a website dedicated entirely to the North Dining Hall renovations, complete with updates and answers to frequently asked questions.

Aside from communications, the most discussed problem was how to address overflow once the renovations start. Duncan Hall senator Zach Huber asked if both dining rooms of South Dining Hall could open during the renovation, Flaherty Hall senator Jade Martinez asked if meal swipes could be converted into flex points and Dunne Hall senator Matthew Donohue asked if there could be a take-out option. 

The directors gave no guarantees but praised the feedback. 

“Afterwards, we are going to have a conversation about how this went with big smiles,” Alberganti said. 

Alberganti, who is in charge of food developments in Campus Crossroads, could not give many details regarding future plans.

“The reason we are taking our time is because we are really reliant on the feedback we are getting,” he said. “We are getting the best partners that we can find.” 

After the presentation, Senate also addressed the price of bottled water at Notre Dame Stadium, which, although priced down for students last year through a deal with the Student Government, went back up again this year. Student body vice president Rebecca Blais said Student Government would look into it and see what could be done to bring the price back down.

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