By Alyssa Sanford
After a full semester of renovations to the Brower Student Center, which permanently eliminated a popular dining option and forced student organizations to relocate their respective office spaces, exciting changes are on the horizon.
Curt Heuring, the vice president for Administration who is involved in campus planning, and Sodexo General Manager Patrice Mendes both confirmed that a new restaurant called Traditions will open in a few weeks in the Brower Student Center.
“The restaurant takes over the space previously occupied by the bookstore… (and will offer a view of the) Social Sciences (Building) and Music Building quadrangle,” Heuring said.
Traditions is a new on-campus dining option where students can use points to pay for food. According to Mendes, “meal equivalency will be honored at this location as it was in the Rat,” which they hope will break up the long lines at the Lions Den and the Library Cafe during those hours.
For students who are still mourning the permanent closure of the Rat, Traditions’ menu “will incorporate several favorites from the Rat,” Mendes said. In addition, the menu will boast “some new and exciting creations from our celebrity chef consultant, Carl Ruiz.”
Ruiz owns Marie’s Italian Specialties, a deli that also serves up classic Italian recipes, located in Chatham Township, N.J., that was featured on a 2013 episode of Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives.” Ruiz also recently appeared on an episode of Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” on Sunday, Jan. 3.
“Over the last six weeks, the kitchen and servery had extensive work completed and are very close to operational,” Mendes said. “The flooring for the dining room, the stage and new windows for the dining room have been installed.”
William Rudeau, director of Campus Construction, said that distressed tiles were recently installed, and showed off reclaimed walnut wood paneling that will accent the walls in the restaurant and the Brower Student Center.
The stage, which is reminiscent of the stage for student performances in the Rat, is still under construction, but the sound system is mostly installed, Rudeau said.
Because construction is still underway for Traditions, it is tentatively scheduled to open on Monday, Feb. 29, according to Mendes.
“We’re working out some equipment delivery logistics and other last-minute challenges, so the actual opening date is uncertain at this point in time,” Heuring said.
The second phase of construction, according to Rudeau, will include the installation of restrooms and a skylight lounge complete with furniture.
Both Heuring and Mendes confirmed that the existing dining options in the Brower Student Center will be updated in the near future.
“Traditions is the first step in new dining options in the Brower Student Center,” Heuring said. “The second phase will include a new servery” that will update the existing space in the Lions’ Den in time for the Fall 2016 semester.
Once Traditions is fully operational, the Lions’ Den and the Fresh Pride Cafe will undergo renovations this summer, Mendes said.
“The Fresh Pride Cafe will continue to highlight Mindful menu items with the addition of a large salad bar. The food court will be expanded to ease traffic flow and will offer sushi,” Mendes said.
In addition, the Lions’ Den will offer “a noodle bowl concept, sandwich concepts, pizza and pasta concepts, fresh burgers” and more, according to Mendes.
As for the rest of the building, the project is still in phase one, according to Heuring. This phase includes the construction of Traditions as well as offices on the second floor. The steel frames are scheduled to be installed during the week of Monday, Jan. 25.
“The multi-purpose room addition foundations are completed,” Heuring said.
In the midst of the extensive renovations to the Brower Student Center, and various buildings around campus, Traditions is being opened for good reason, according to Mendes.
“The renovation was staged to allow students to enjoy the food court while Traditions was completed and then to allow students access to the completed Traditions restaurant when the food court undergoes renovation for a Fall 2016 opening,” Mendes said.