With a potential change to the dining program currently being reviewed, KU’s Housing, Residence Life and Dining Services’ office and office of Administration and Finance are teaming up once again to implement additional renovations for all dining facilities.
Both offices have considered redesigning the Cub Café in the McFarland Student Union Building (MSU), the South Side Café and Golden Bear Food Court in South Dining Hall. The estimate cost for renovations is currently $18 million, however, the budget will remain uncertain until projects are financed.
“Part of the changes that we’re looking at, at the moment is a full renovation of South Dining Hall, which is a big part of it. We’re also looking at changing the Cub Café in the Student Union Building by expanding that facility,” said Gerald Silberman, the Vice President for Administration and Finance.
The office of Administration and Finance is working on the master plan, which they expect to be completed by the end of June 2013. During this phase, KU will incorporate student recommendations on issues such as facility hours of operation and the dining selection.
According to Silberman, the Cub Café would be the first dining facility to undergo renovations. If the project is approved and financed, the design process would begin shortly after.
The design phase, however, is a yearlong process that includes working with architectural firms, bidding to find a contracting firm and identifying the winning contractor. Once the designing is complete, construction will begin on the facility.
“Our goal is to begin the project in the summer of 2014 and have it completed in the summer of 2015, right before students return for the fall semester,” stated Silberman.
According to Kent Dahlquist, Director of Housing, Residence Life and Dining Services, the second goal of the project is to have two board locations—the South Side Café, located on the second floor of South Dining Hall, and the Cub Café—as an all-you-can-eat facility.
“The renovation of Cub Café will be closely related to the renovation plans of South Dining Hall,” stated Dahlquist. “If you walk into South Dining Hall it’s a cafeteria like you have in high school. We’re looking to provide more of an atmosphere and environment that’s very open, very visual and free flowing.”
Due to the similar design plans, the Cub Café stations—Chick-fil-A, the Burger Studio, Main Street Deli, Mexican on Main and NEW Home on Main—will be removed and created to mock those of the South Side Café.
“When you walk in the front door you’ll be able to see a salad area, a grill, maybe a brick oven pizza area and the traditional “home” area. You’ll get to walk up and choose what you want to eat instead of waiting in a line,” stated Dahlquist. “Also, 90 to 95 percent of the products will be cooked in front of you, so there will be fresher food.”
In addition to the Cub Café Project, KU is looking to expand seating outside of the MSU where the current patio is located.
Renovations to the two facilities would be completed in phases; when the Cub Café is offline the South Side Café will be online as the main dining source for students.
Furthermore, KU’s Housing, Residence Life and Dining Services’ office and the office of Administration and Finance hope to refurbish the Golden Bear Food Court, located on the first floor of South Dining Hall.
“We’re actually trying to create a living room environment where students can go and hang out. There might be a cyber lounge, free printing, a stage for open mic-nights and large screen TV’s,” said Dahlquist. “We want a location where students want to hang out other than their dorm room.”
KU is also considering creating the Golden Bear Food Court as a 24/7 service, in which students can order from a possible coffee shop and grill. Nonetheless, the design for the facility is still being discussed.
“We’re really trying to elevate our student experience, not just in the dining halls but in the overall campus,” stated Dahlquist.

By Marianella Orlando

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