With the opening of the new dining facility at Washington University in St. Louis Aug. 26, students can feast on food from around the globe, grown right here in the Midwest.
The state-of-the-art facility — located in the South 40 Center on the university’s Danforth Campus — offers a plethora of food options to the increasingly diverse university community. With more than 700 seats, it also provides comfortable gathering spaces for groups from two to 300.
“This new dining facility on the South 40 ranks among the very best in the country,” says Steve Hoffner, associate vice chancellor for operations. “Thanks to the efforts of many, it is a beautiful, highly functional area that will serve students for generations to come.”
The eatery’s stations feature dishes prepared on a Mongolian grill and tandoori ovens, plus hearth-baked pizza and fresh pasta as well as traditional Latin fare. And, of course, there are burgers, hot dogs and fries as well as sandwiches, fruit and a salad bar, among other options.
For students, faculty and staff with special dietary needs, a variety of vegetarian options and foods prepared without gluten is available and clearly marked, and a kosher kitchen is located on-site to cook kosher dishes.
Though the menu is international in flavor, much of the food comes from sources close to campus. Using locally sourced food minimizes the eatery’s impact on greenhouse gas emissions, supports local food producers and allows WUSTL to maximize the amount of fresh food available to the campus community.
“Our goal is to reduce processed and packaged food available and serve more fresh, in-house food made from scratch,” says Nadeem Siddiqui, director of WUSTL Dining Services. “Our students have amazing minds, our job is to fuel those minds with the fresh, nutritious food.”
Food is served a la carte, and there is a single location for checkout stations, which will help minimize congestion and streamline people in and out.
But the facility is designed to be more than a servery. With its open floor plan, cozy booths and sunlit rooms, the eatery will become a premier gathering place at the university, says Hoffner, where students, faculty and staff can feel comfortable meeting for lingering discussions.
In total, the facility boasts more than 700 seats, plus 150 more seats available outside during nice weather, with two main eating areas: Bear’s Den and College Hall.
Bear’s Den includes the servery and seats approximately 400 students. Diners can meet for an intimate meal in a booth, or they can pull together tables or reserve dining rooms to accommodate larger groups. Stone fireplaces, blue pendant lights, flatscreen TVs and rounded curves add to its homey, easygoing feel.
The new College Hall — the facility’s “crown jewel,” says Hoffner — seats up to 300 people and features a vaulted, 37-foot ceiling, tall windows, wrought-iron chandeliers, a floor-to-ceiling fireplace and long tables — reminiscent of a more traditional college dining hall. It is large enough to seat an entire residential college, allowing the colleges to organize group meals.
“In addition to offering state-of-the-art food preparation and dining facilities, these new spaces will greatly enhance our efforts to promote a strong sense of community within our residential colleges,” says Justin Carroll, associate vice chancellor for students and dean of students.
The facility also features a Chef’s Table and demonstration kitchen for chef demos, special dinners and cooking classes.
This new dining facility replaces the South 40’s Wohl Center, which was demolished in 2009 and offered more traditional, all-you-can-eat college fare.
The new facility’s a la carte style, with take-out options, is more environmentally friendly because it reduces food waste.
It also is more in-tune with the needs of contemporary students, Siddiqui says, whose lifestyles no longer fit the traditional three-square-meals-a-day mold.
“Current college students grew up going 24 hours, scheduling things like eating and sleeping around what other things they have to do, not vice versa,” Siddiqui says.
“This new facility is built to accommodate their lifestyle,” he says.
Other sustainability initiatives implemented at the new dining facility include the use of sensor lighting, reusable food boxes and dining wares. Organic food waste will be composted, extra food will be donated to Feed St. Louis, and waste oil will be converted to biofuel to fuel a dining services truck (“Biodiesel powers WUSTL Dining Services truck“, Dec. 9, 2009).
The new facility opens each day at 7:30 a.m. and closes Monday through Thursday at 2 a.m., Fridays and Saturdays at 3 a.m., and Sundays at 1 a.m. Many stations — including Grizzly Grill and Ciao Down Pizza & Pasta — will offer a $5 lunch combination this semester.
For more information and a list of stations and their times of operation, visit diningservices.wustl.edu.