By Karissa Rangel
LOGOS STAFF WRITER
Marian Hall’s cafeteria still exists but it lives on in a new location on the first floor of Dr. Burton E. Grossman International Conference Center.
Marian Hall@ICC opened this summer and began serving campers to prepare for University of the Incarnate Word palates this fall.
The cafeteria will be in its new space for at least two years — the estimated time it will take to build the new $29 million Student Engagement Center to replace Marian Hall Student Center. Marian Hall@ICC was a joint effort — designed by Sodexo with construction through the university and Joeris.
Between the two contractors, they were able to transform a once outdoor patio into a dining area to host students, faculty and staff as an eat-in dining area. The seating area showcases outdoor sunlight with floor-to-ceiling windows. It is also running on energy-efficient savings with lighting sensors. In the next room over, students, faculty and staff are able to select a meal, from classic staples such as chicken-fried steak to spaghetti and meatballs, depending on what’s on the menu.
While the cafeteria will be in a newer facility, some students are still concerned.
“The cafeteria is not conveniently placed in the center of campus near the classrooms.”
said Raquel Kazprzyk, a sophomore 3D Animation/Game Design major. “It’s going to be harder (to get there).”
Sodexo General Manager Murat Bora concedes there are going to be some problems and concerns with the changes.
“These are inconvenient times for all of us because of construction,” Bora said. “But it’s going to be convenient for residents for breakfast and dinner.”
As far as the building is concerned, Bora said he doesn’t see the cafeteria’s new location as “a smaller space, but a more efficient space.”
The new cafeteria will seat about 230-245 students, the same as the old location, he noted.
The appliances are all brand-new, including ovens, coolers and dishwashers. The
cafeteria will still have all of its previous stations such as the grill, pizza station, market line, breakfast bar, dessert section, sandwich shop, salad bar, soups as well as vegan and vegetarian options.
“[It’s] all the same stations, but a more efficient layout,” Bora said. “The food will not be affected. It’s better. You guys won’t have to worry about leaking ceilings.”
The new cafeteria will have two entrances, one near the Hillside Hall shuttle stop and another inside the ICC. The cafeteria will still offer window seating as the old facility did so students can enjoy nature and good food with the comfort of air conditioning and fast Wi-Fi connection. And the new cafeteria will continue to offer “to go” for students who want to eat on the run or are limited on time before class
Meanwhile, Hortencia’s in the basement of the Administration Building is expanding to hold up to the influx of more people looking for lunch. Sodexo anticipates Hortencia’s Chick-fil-a will be more packed than ever come lunchtime, but they are working to feed the crowds.
“Hortencia’s will have a brand-new Coca-Cola freestyle machine, which will allow students, faculty and staff to customize their own beverages,” said Bianca Maldonado, unit marketing coordinator for Sodexo on campus. “The layout creates an open-concept, giving off a spacious feeling. Hortencia’s will be fully stocked with even more snacks and grab-and-go items because of the increased space.”
Sodexo also will expand its mobile operation on the golf cart and opening a new unit in Dubuis Hall called “Café a la Cart,” a full-meal operation based on the cafeteria swipe system such as the ICC’s former café, Circa 1881. And Finnegan’s will remain a fixture on the first floor of J.E. and L.E. Mabee Library.
In comparison to off-campus food, Marian Hall@ICC will still be cheaper for the amount of food offered to students in a single sitting.
“You can go back after you eat; grab a Jell-O, a pie, or a cake and it’s not going to cost you an extra $5,” Maldonado said.
The new location is a major adjustment for everyone, but Sodexo’s Bora said he knows the facility is going to be a success.
“It’s smaller. But once [students] see the space, we’re scared for more traffic,” Bora said. “It’s going to look shiny and new with good staff and good food. Students will be able to come here for a good meal.”