ISR dining hall opens to full capacity

Premade+%E2%80%9CI%E2%80%9D+shaped+noodles+sit+in+a+holding+container+at+the+new+ISR+dining+hall+on+Friday.+The+dining+facility+has+reopened+at+full+capacity+following+a+%2473+million+renovation.

Cameron Krasucki

Premade “I” shaped noodles sit in a holding container at the new ISR dining hall on Friday. The dining facility has reopened at full capacity following a $73 million renovation.

By Sophie Casaburi, Staff Writer

For the fall 2021 semester, the ISR dining hall is on track to be fully operationalized to serve the incoming flux of students. 

Following the $73 million dining renovations that concluded in the fall 2020 semester, the dining hall was ready to fully reopen. However, since COVID-19 limited staff and student capacity to 63%, only part of the dining facility was utilized.

The dining facility consists of nine “micro-restaurants,” with food ranging from pizza and pasta at Saporito, Asian cuisine at Fusion 48 and dessert and coffee at Café a la Crumb. 

“I think the overall facility is about fresh food and made-to-order at those locations,” said Alma R. Sealine, director of University Housing. “There’s a variety of different options that hopefully meet the variety of different needs of our students, and we want to provide an environment that is welcoming and joyful while they are there.”

Each micro-restaurant is equipped with its own specialized machinery to make a variety of different foods.

“We wanted to have each location to have something that was kind of a signature where people would come in and go, ‘Oh, that’s cool!’” said Thurman Etchison, assistant director of Dining Services.

One of the advanced machines at Saporito is a pasta machine from Arcobaleno Pasta Machines in Pennsylvania. It makes a variety of different pastas ranging from lasagna to rotini to “I” shapes and can make up to 250 pounds of pasta an hour.

“That machine is an investment in our future here, it is to provide good service and product for our students; it is a nice showpiece,” Etchison said. “It’s an industrial piece of equipment and those things are not inexpensive … it has to last, it has to be durable and it has to do what it needs to do.”

Etchison expects the machine to last for a minimum of 15 years and that it will pay for over its lifespan. The machine is also planned to make pasta for other dining units as well as to retail and sell “I”-shaped pasta.

In addition, each micro-restaurant has its own design features to coordinate with its type of cuisine.

For example, Grains & Greens has a green-colored design, Grillworks has a design inspired by a southern smokehouse, and Latitude has blue and green architectural panels to mimic ocean waves.

“A lot of thought went into (the design),” said Etchison. “We took a two-day trip to Chicago. We visited 40 restaurants in two days, popped in and looked around. What do we like? What do we not like? It was a very very long process, but I think it worked out well. I’m very proud of what we’ve done.”

 

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