If one is a resident of Hillcrest Hall or just a fan of its cafeteria’s home-cooked meal appeal, one has probably noticed the “Pardon our Dust, but Renovate We Must” banner outside the cafeteria’s double doors.
After Aramark, better known to the Southern Miss community as Eagle Dining, renewed its eight-year contract July 1, the Philadelphia-based company immediately took measures for its long-desired facelift of Hillcrest Hall dining facilities.
The $400,000 dollar project is intended to bring a new aesthetic appeal for the long outdated cafeteria as well as cleaning outdated construction applications.
John Meyer, director of operations at Eagle Dining, said Aramark is excited to announce the long awaited renovation project will be completed as early as Monday, Sept. 8.
“This (upcoming) Monday will be our informal opening,” Meyer said. “Students will regain full access to the (dining hall).”
Students currently receive full-service food catering style from tables with serving dishes located in the middle of the cafeteria as the serving line finishes its updating.
Meyer said the project is primarily based around Hillcrest’s popularity among students.
Once Meyer learned the university planned to keep the hall open for roughly another decade, it was decided that the well-frequented hall, originally built in 1964, should live out its term with fresh design and modern updates.
Glenda Riley, location manager at Hillcrest Dining, gave The Student Printz a quick look at the renovations.
Where once was carpet lay brand new wood flooring, providing streamline design with the rest of the dormitory; new burnt orange wall paint alongside the light yellow provides a warmer palette to the student eye; new contemporary tables and chairs are ADA-approved and brand new booths and high stool bar will provide diversity in seating options.
“No longer will we have blinds that fall down on us as we try to adjust them,” Riley said, motioning toward the yellowed strips that currently hang over the windows. “New roll-up (style) shades will replace those this weekend.”
Riley and other staff said they were tickled about the renovation.
Behind the temporary plywood that protects students from construction is the granite countered server line that will offer the pasta, home-style, grill and dessert options that existed prior to the renovations.
“We are receiving a new server line, with fresh mill work and kitchen equipment that will overall be a better experience for workers and students,” Riley said.
The new beverage station will offer Coke products, coffee, infused waters, juices and tea. A new salad bar will take the place of the dated one.
Hillcrest will now accommodate seating for 180 students, while still offering the private dining room for events and meetings on campus. The project is funded under the food company’s contractual money set aside for campus improvement or new franchises.
“We plan a grand opening sometime in October after the last home game in order to avoid diverting attention from football,” Meyer said.
Aramark has held a contract with the University since July 1, 2004 and will continue to hold contract until July 1, 2022.