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Friday, September 19, 2014

Student Center Restaurants to Close Temporarily

Finding food at WCC will be trickier after all existing campus eateries close on Friday, March 30. But never fear: Food will be available if you know where and when to look.

Subway, Edibles, and Bakuzios are all closing for renovations to the first floor of the Student Center building, and won’t reopen until Fall Semester. However, the College’s caterer, Fabulous Food, has stepped in to help keep stomachs filled. The WCC Bookstore also will be stocking more food during the renovations.

Food Available in LA Building

Fabulous Food will offer lunch from 11:00am to 2:00pm Monday through Friday outside Room 152 in the Crane Liberal Arts and Science building. That’s near the atrium of the Crane building, and customers will be able to eat in the atrium, down the hall in the building’s lobby, or outside.

The caterer will have hot and cold sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, soup, chips, candy bars, pop, water, Gatorade, and energy drinks. Sandwiches will cost $5.50, hot dogs $3, salads $4, and soup $3. At least initially, Fabulous Food will only accept cash.

Fabulous Food created the menu “based on what students have available to them at Subway, Edibles, and Bakuzios,” said Kyle Kooyers, the caterer’s executive chef. “But it’s a temporary space, so we’re limited in what hot foods we can bring in.”

Kooyers said the menu “will be an ever growing, ever changing thing.” Decisions about new items to offer and a possible expansion of hours will be based on traffic and customer requests, he said.

“We’re going to try to evolve into what people want,” said Larry Jenks, event coordinator for Fabulous Food. “We don’t know whether we’re going to get 20 people or a thousand.”

“It’s going to be a guessing game,” Kooyers said, “and we just ask people to be patient with us while we work out the kinks.”

Fabulous Food is a contract caterer at WCC, and has exclusive rights to cater all events in the Morris Lawrence building. It also caters events elsewhere on campus, in addition to weddings and other events off campus.

The logistics will be daunting, since the main kitchen for Fabulous Food is in the Morris Lawrence building and the caterer will have to haul food to LA 152. “It’s been challenging in trying to figure out the little things,” Jenks said.

Bookstore to Stock More Food

The WCC Bookstore also will be helping to fill empty stomachs. “We’re going to be ordering more food,” said Tina Perkins, assistant manager at the bookstore. “We’re looking at stocking more product, especially in frozen foods.”

The bookstore has a broad selection of food, ranging from chips and other snack foods to a variety of microwavable meals.

Although the bookstore is located on the first floor of the Student Center building, it will remain open during the renovations. However, it will have a new temporary entrance through an exterior door.

Vending Machines May Get a Workout

Vending machines across campus will likely get increased traffic while the eateries are closed. The machines on the first floor of the Student Center building won’t be available during the renovations, but four pop machines will be placed in various locations outside the Student Center building, said Barb Fillinger, director of budget, purchasing, and auxiliary services. Food vending machines can’t be placed outside because they’re not weather- or critter-proof.

The most popular vending machines are likely to be those offering coffee. Coffee machines are available at three locations:

  • Room 162 of the Crane Liberal Arts and Science building
  • The base of the atrium in the Larry L. Whitworth Occupational Education building
  • By the police academy in the Morris Lawrence building

Coffee is also available at the Primo Fitness Cafe at The Health & Fitness Center.

Renovations Target Dining Area

The main aim of the renovations, which are budgeted at $2.7 million, is to improve the dining experience for students and increase seating capacity, said Damon Flowers, associate vice president of facilities development and operations. The existing dining space is “wearing out because of its heavy use over 13 years” since the last renovations in 1998, he said.

Some of the most noticeable changes in the main area where students eat, study, and relax will be:

  • The surfaces will be softened to reduce noise levels.
  • Seating clusters will be created with a variety of tables, booths, and other seating arrangements. “There will be a wide variety of types of seating,” Flowers said.
  • New traffic patterns will separate people who are walking through from those who are dining.

“The new design will be dramatically different than the current space,” Flowers said.

Game Room Being Created

The renovations also include creation of a game and multipurpose room of nearly 3,600 square feet. “This is something the College has never had before,” Flowers said. The game room will go in the space currently occupied by the Copy Center, the book pickup for the WCC Bookstore, and the study pub.

Plans for the game room are not complete, but it will have a ping-pong table, foosball table, and a basketball shootout game, said Pete Leshkevich, director of Student Development and Activities. Some other possibilities include a pool table, air hockey, video game consoles, and stations where students can hook up laptops to play games on large video screens, he said.

Student Activities also will use the space for its popular daily lunchtime activities like Wii Wednesday and speed bingo. Leshkevich said this will remove the activities, many of which are noisy, from the main dining area. “We wanted a space to invite the students who want to participate in these activities to gather,” he said.

The space is being designed so that it can be used for other activities as well. For example, it will be possible to push the games aside and use the space for a guest lecture, Leshkevich said.

What Else is Changing?

Many other changes are occurring on the first floor of the Student Center building. Here are some highlights:

  • Bakuzios, the coffee shop, will be expanding into the space now occupied by WCC Sports. It will offer a variety of window and interior seating options, and seating will be expanded.
  • WCC Sports is moving into the space occupied by the Sweet Spot, the student-run bake shop operated by the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management department.
  • The Sweet Spot is moving across the hall to the space previously occupied by Orchard Radio. The student radio station has moved to Room 231 in the Technical and Industrial building.
  • When the Fall Semester begins, the Sweet Spot space also will feature a new establishment called Garrett’s To Go. It will offer takeout food prepared by students in the Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management department. The Sweet Spot will be closed during the renovations.
  • During the second week of April, the Copy Center will move to a new permanent home in Room 236 of the Technical and Industrial building.
  • The ATM is moving to the second floor of the Student Center building near the Campus Safety and Security office.
  • Garrett’s, the student-run restaurant, “is getting a huge facelift,” Flowers said. It will be redesigned to include booths, tables, a private dining area, and a bar so it more closely resembles a commercial restaurant, he said. Garrett’s will be closed during the renovations.
  • The WCC Bookstore book pickup station will be moved to the space previously occupied by the faculty lounge, which has moved to Room 382 in the Crane Liberal Arts and Science building. For the Spring/Summer Semester, all book pickups will be inside the bookstore.
  • The exterior stair at the front of the Student Center building will be demolished because it's “disintegrating,” Flowers said.

In what may constitute a major understatement, Flowers said: “There are a lot of musical chairs to this whole project.”

How to Access the Student Center Building

During the construction project, there will be just two ways for students to enter the Student Center building:

  • Through the bridge between the second floors of the Crane Liberal Arts and Science building and the Student Center building.
  • Through the second-floor entrance on the east side of the Student Center building.

Both entrances are accessible by people with disabilities.

The WCC Bookstore, the Student Activities office, and the WCC Sports office will be accessible during the project through exterior doors. In addition, the public elevator in the building will continue running. However, it will only travel between the second and third floors.

Completion Scheduled Before Fall Semester

All of the renovations are scheduled to be completed before students return for Fall Semester. “There’s no time to waste on this job,” Flowers said.

The College will have clauses in its contracts to keep contractors from falling behind, he said. Those clauses will require contractors to pay damages for every day that they’re late. “It’s pretty onerous,” Flowers said, “so they have a big incentive to be on time.”

For College staff members who work in the Student Center building, the best news about the project may involve the noisy demolition work: It will all be done at night.

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