New choices, expanded spaces highlight renovations to campus dining experience

Western Today staff
  • Ridgeway Commons is the first of the three dining commons on Western Washington University's campus to undergo renovation. Fairhaven Commons and Viking Commons will be renovated in the next two years, according to Aramark's plan. Rendering courtesy of Ara
    Ridgeway Commons is the first of the three dining commons on Western Washington University's campus to undergo renovation. Fairhaven Commons and Viking Commons will be renovated in the next two years, according to Aramark's plan. Rendering courtesy of Ara
  • The Atrium in Arntzen Hall is being expanded to include a full-service Starbucks restaurant. Renovations to the Atrium and other campus eateries are expected to be complete by the beginning of fall quarter. Rendering courtesy of Aramark.
    The Atrium in Arntzen Hall is being expanded to include a full-service Starbucks restaurant. Renovations to the Atrium and other campus eateries are expected to be complete by the beginning of fall quarter. Rendering courtesy of Aramark.
  • Additions to the expanded Atrium in Arntzen Hall include Topio's pizzeria and Engrained Cafe. Rendering courtesy of Aramark.
    Additions to the expanded Atrium in Arntzen Hall include Topio's pizzeria and Engrained Cafe. Rendering courtesy of Aramark.
  • This artist's rendering of the renovated Viking Union Market shows two additions to the space: Burger Studio and Subway replace the Mediterranean Grill and Chick-Fil-A. Rending courtesy of Aramark.
    This artist's rendering of the renovated Viking Union Market shows two additions to the space: Burger Studio and Subway replace the Mediterranean Grill and Chick-Fil-A. Rending courtesy of Aramark.
  • The Viking Union Cafe is undergoing renovation as part of Western's switch to Aramark as the dining contractor for the university. Rendering courtesy of Aramark.
    The Viking Union Cafe is undergoing renovation as part of Western's switch to Aramark as the dining contractor for the university. Rendering courtesy of Aramark.

University Dining Services at Western Washington University, as part of its new partnership with ARAMARK Higher Education, is introducing new programs and renovating dining locations for the 2011-12 academic year. The new facilities are expected to be open for the start of the school year on Sept. 21.

Aramark is the university's new dining contractor as of Sept. 1. The 10-year contract with Aramark continues through Aug. 31, 2021.

Renovations

The serving and seating areas at Ridgeway Commons, the main dining commons serving those living on the Ridge, are being completely remodeled this summer. Among the additions are two interactive exhibition stations that will allow students to get up close and personal with the chefs as the food is being prepared before their eyes. Also being added is a dynamic text 'n' tell system that allows students to text their comments to the Ridgeway Commons staff; staff will text back and the conversation will be posted on a large digital board in the dining room. Flat-screen TVs have been added to the seating area. Renovations to the Viking Commons and Fairhaven Commons are planned for the next two years.

Several cafés and markets also are undergoing renovation this summer. The Atrium in Arntzen Hall is being doubled in size. Eating options in the new space will consist of Starbucks, Topio’s pizzeria, Engrained Café and a P.O.D. (Provisions on Demand) convenience market. Starbucks will offer the full drink and food menu available at standalone Starbucks cafés. Topio’s pizza is made using old-world techniques, including fresh pressed dough for thin crusts, organic tomatoes and a traditional blend of Mozzarella and Asiago cheeses. Slices can be customized with a variety of spice blends. Engrained Café’s eclectic menu will be based on fresh, local and seasonal ingredients with a Mediterranean flair. Both Engrained and Topio's are expected to open Oct. 3. The P.O.D. Market features grab 'n' go dining options for breakfast, lunch or any time of day. Items include freshly prepared breakfast sandwiches, burritos, wraps, sushi and salads in addition to the fresh produce, bakery selections and traditional essentials found in a convenience store.

The dining locations in the Viking Union also are being updated for the coming year. The Viking Union Market will feature a Burger Studio and a Subway restaurant. Those ordering from the Burger Studio may do so using electronic touch-screen kiosks, designing their individual masterpieces that will be made to order. Options include an Angus beef, chicken or veggie burger and more than 30 toppings, cheeses and special sauces. The kiosks prompt each customer with a variety of choices; customers visually create the order by building the burger, piece by piece, on the kiosk screen.

Next door to the Viking Union Market, the Viking Café is getting a facelift; the overhauled restaurant will feature made-to-order sandwiches, paninis and salads.

Check out this full list of dining options on campus:

  • The Atrium
  • BT Station Café & Market
  • Haggard Hideaway
  • Miller Market
  • Rock’s Edge Cafe
  • The Haven Market
  • Underground Coffeehouse
  • Viking Union Café
  • Viking Union Market
  • Zoe’s Bookside Bagels
  • Viking Commons
  • Fairhaven Commons
  • Ridgeway Commons

For more information, check out this map from University Dining Services.

Program Enhancements

In addition to these major renovations, the campus dining experience is being further enhanced by the addition of new dining, nutrition and sustainability programs. All three resident dining commons are becoming Real Food on Campus destinations. Real Food on Campus focuses on delivering variety, value, interaction and exceptional customer service. Menus were created by a collaboration of chefs from across the country in response to customer feedback and demands. Dishes are prepared with high-quality, fresh ingredients, including an increased amount sourced through local farms, resulting in a healthful and delicious dining experience for students that highlights sustainable practices. The program enhancements also make it easier for students to plan their meals with detailed nutritional and ingredient information that is posted at each station and online. University Dining Services is committed to providing menus that accommodate the dietary needs and restrictions of everyone who dines on campus.

Students will also find increased resident dining convenience. All three dining commons are introducing continuous dining from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Friday. Late Night dining will continue and is available Sunday through Thursday nights from 9 to 10:30 in Viking Commons, 9:30 to 11 in Ridgeway Commons and 10 to 11:30 in Fairhaven Commons.

Amid the changes, many of the great programs students have enjoyed for years will remain. The same selection of flexible meal plans will be offered to all students. Each plan is specifically tailored to the unique eating habits, schedules and preferences of each participant. In addition to traditional meal plans, Viking Dollars (formerly Munch Money) still will be available. This declining-balance program allows participants to add any amount of money at any time to their Western Card for purchases at all campus dining locations. As was the case with Munch Money, all items purchased with Viking Dollars will be discounted 10 percent.

Aramark provides food service and facility management services in 22 countries, including 600 colleges and universities in the United States covering residential and retail dining, conference, catering and concession food services.

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Friday, September 9, 2011 - 1:36pm

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