Renovations uncover new, ‘fabulous’ Elder

Michelle Ma

The comment cards concerning Elder’s newly renovated dining hall say it all.

“Students say ‘the new look rocks,'” said Jamie Woodruff, lead manager of Elder dining hall.

A summer transformation of Elder Hall’s dining room appearance and expanded food options have received high marks from freshmen residents and upperclassmen alike, who have spent many a meal at Elder.

The dining facility received an interior makeover this summer in preparation for the 2004-05 school year.

Food stations in the serving area were redone to offer students a greater variety of food options and to allow for more efficiency in the serving area, said Anne VanOsdol, assistant director of food service at Northwestern. This year, the Elder dining hall and the Foster-Walker East dining hall both received renovations and represent part of a trend to “freshen up” dining halls across campus, she said.

Plans for renovations were made last school year and implemented this past summer, VanOsdol said. But Elder’s change to an all-freshmen residence hall added extra motivation for the renovations, she said.

“(Elder) should really rock,” VanOsdol said. “I was going to make it great, but when I heard it was all freshmen, I wanted to make it fabulous.”

Students, especially freshmen, should be able to feel and see NU spirit around campus, dining halls included, according to VanOsdol. To add to this spirit, Elder has added new tables with purple and black decals and will have a Wildcat ‘N’ painted on one of the walls, she said.

The decision to diversify food options and improve the dining hall’s appearance in Elder shows the university’s support of the new freshman quad, said Michael Kane, a Weinberg freshman and a second-floor representative for Elder’s dorm government.

“It seems the university is really supportive of the freshman quad, especially with the food changes,” Kane said. “They do cater to students’ needs.”

The changes to the eating area were chiefly designed to add more light and to foster a “gathering place” for students, VanOsdol said. The functionality of the modern appliances are offset by bright painted walls in the dining area, fresh blue and gray wall paneling and new blinds, which makes the rooms brighter.

Some structural changes made also will add to the dining experience, Woodruff said. Open spaces behind the pizza station and grill now allow easier access to the kitchen for chefs, resulting in made-to-order grill options for students. Before, all grill options were prepared in the rear kitchen, Woodruff said.

The dining hall’s salad bar, which used to occupy space in the middle of the eating area, is now a custom-made station in the serving area. Chefs toss individual salads according to students’ choices, Woodruff said.

“At first, people were skeptical about (someone else) making their salad,” Woodruff said. “Now they’ve come to like it.”

An expanded wrap, toasted sub and sandwich bar and the salad bar are the two most popular food stations, he said.

The suggestions for changes in Elder’s dining hall came in part from last year’s Dining Committee composed of Elder residents and resident assistants, Kane said. Student comment cards also brought about changes to dining hall services, including a full hot breakfast this year, he said.

Woodruff currently is in the process of forming a new 2004-05 Dining Committee with some of the new freshman and resident assistants.

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