Three renovations completed over the summer will change how students, faculty and staff experience their dining options on campus. Dorrill Dining Hall (D-Hall) received a face-lift with new counters, flooring, equipment and more. Lankford Student Union was also remodeled with new seating as well as new fast food options. Additionally, there is a new convenience/grocery store built, which will sell fresh produce and allow for Bonus Dollars as payment located at North Campus Apartments beside Lancer Park.
To decide on what changes to add to each of the locations, Longwood Dining Services conducted Market Match, a market program that organizes focus groups for students to discuss what improvements they may want to see. Dine with the Director meetings were also organized, which allowed students to meet Director of Dining Services Grant Avent. The Longwood Dining Services distributes two surveys every year as well.
Plans for renovating D-Hall were a two year process, according to Avent. New changes include new chairs and tables, wood flooring, carpeting, countertops, fixtures and lighting. The light boxes within the seating area of D-Hall also includes new wood paneling. New televisions have also been installed, which will broadcast OrcaTV for news, student content and ads.
Newly added equipment includes an ice cream machine, a Turbo Chef Panini toaster and a Douwe Egberts coffee machine. With the new Panini toaster, Avent hopes that it will speed up the process for students to get their lunch. The new coffee machine also allows for faster service by not requiring the workers to re-brew coffee throughout the day. The coffee machine allows options for hot water, decaf and iced coffee.
The murals within D-Hall have been taken down, and new art will be installed that can be easily changed periodically.
A Health for Life board is installed at the front of D-Hall when students walk in from Brock Commons. It includes brochures on how to make healthy decisions with nutrition, including understanding serving sizes.
The boards that were originally located within the walkway of D-Hall are moved behind the pizza oven. The boards include information on serving sizes, calories and more on the food served at D-Hall.
A new addition that Longwood Dining Services will also implement includes more advertising that they partner with local Virginia farms and businesses for the food served at D-Hall. This includes produce and tofu from farms in Cumberland, Hanover and Charlottesville as well as bread from The Bakery, a sandwich shop located on Main Street.
Avent commented, “That’s something that we’re going to focus on this year ... letting students know where this [food] is coming from."
As Longwood begins construction on the new University Center, which will include a food court area, Avent said that there was uncertainty as to whether or not to spend the money on renovating the Student Union.
After the Market Match was completed, Avent said that he realized, “Look, four years, that’s the life of a student. We have to do something. This space needs something. Does it need $2 million? No, that’s a waste of money, but it needs something.”
Avent stated that as the discussions and the new designs were completed, the changes were “smart economically.” By mid-July of this year, the Student Union was “gutted” before completion mid-August, according to Avent.
Currently, the concepts being deliberated on include a burger option, a healthy salad and sandwich option and a Dunkin’ Donuts. The location of the convenience store within the Student Union was relocated to the opposite end of the floor closer to the mail room where there was originally a large television and couches. A cash register was relocated to the location as well.
The Student Union also features new seating and tables.
Avent stated that the Student Union was originally built “with the ability to expand.” He further added that there is a big enough hood system, exhaust system, electric system, as well as enough space to add fryers and a grill eventually. “We look and see what the students are asking for, and then we will concentrate that a little bit more as we move forward on this project as that is going to be another two years or so,” Avent said.
Planning for the new convenience store underwent a three year process on where the location would be and what would be placed in the store, itself. The discussions for the location of the store centered around either Longwood Village or Lancer Park before settling at the latter location, according to Avent.
Avent commented that the convenience store resembles what one would see in a Sheetz or Wawa with fresh vegetables, sandwiches and salads, as well as pizzas. Inside the store, there will also be a bank of walk-in refrigerators with freezers on the end.
Concerning the prices of the items sold in the convenience store, Avent said, “Our prices are going to be like a convenience store price, like a Sheetz or something like that. We may not be able to get the same price as you would get at a Walmart because they can purchase in bulk more than we can.”
The hours of operation for the new convenience store will be from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. from Monday through Sunday. Adjustments to the opening or closing hours may be made as Longwood Dining Services researches the student traffic patterns.
“I think it’s going to be a great addition, and I do think that it’s going to draw students, not only from Lancer Park, but from all over campus.” Avent said.