McMahon Dining Hall to be renovated
Published: Thursday, February 16, 2012
Updated: Thursday, February 16, 2012 21:02
After five years of planning, the McMahon Dining Hall renovation project will break ground next week, the first step toward a fully revamped and international-themed dining hall.
There is a large percentage of international students dining at McMahon, which is the home to Global House learning community, according to Dennis Pierce, director of UConn Dining Services.
Pierce said the international theme will extend beyond food options and will be visible in the layout of the renovated dining hall. The dining hall will incorporate three different seating types, including low chairs and coffee tables, tall chairs and tables and the regular-sized tables currently in the dining hall.
"It will be a snazzy place," Pierce said.
Renovations will also include updates to the serving layout, creating areas for gluten-free foods, grilled foods and dairy foods. Seating will be available for diners at counters surrounding the cooks preparing the food.
"Students will really be able to interact with the people preparing their food," Pierce said. "They can talk to them and ask them questions."
UConn Dining Services has purchased two tandoori ovens, used for baking traditional Indian naan bread, as well as a stone oven. The chefs have collaborated with students to create an international comfort-food-themed menu.
"I see students as emotional eaters," Pierce said. "People cheat on diets. We like to have comfort food."
Pierce said American students have their versions of comfort food in the dining halls but that international students currently do not.
"What is comfort food? It's not an American version of Asian food," Pierce said. "It's the food someone's mother would have made in another country. We've put a lot of thought into these recipes."
McMahon Dining Hall is second only to South Dining Hall in student usage. To accommodate more diners, an expansion to structure and an additional 200 seats is included in the renovations. During spring break, a wall will be constructed to cover the windowed wall of the dining hall. The existing windowed wall will be knocked down to extend the indoor dining area onto the patio.
When McMahon is fully revamped at the start of the Fall 2012 semester, the dining hall will extend its hours to include weekends while remaining open until 10 p.m. during the week.
During the rest of the spring semester, food service at McMahon will remain the same but students will use the north side entrance instead of the main entrance to accommodate the construction zone. Construction will not take place any day before 8 a.m., during quiet hours or during finals week.
Students expressed enthusiasm for the changes to McMahon.
"It really will enrich UConn culture and McMahon renovations were much needed," said Kristen Colberg, a 4th-semester biomedical engineering major. "It will be a great new addition to the UConn community."
Pierce said he is optimistic about the renovations and believes students will enjoy the changes.
"From an ambiance perspective, it will probably be the favorite dining location on campus," Pierce said.