University Park, IL,
17:00 PM

A New Dining Center is Coming to Governors State

Excitement is building on campus as major changes are coming to  Governors State University’s cafeteria this spring. The GSU Café,  nearly untouched in 50 years, will be under construction beginning mid-April until August, just in time for the fall 2020 semester.

Recently released renderings for the overhaul of 17,500-square-foot café show expanded and renovated spaces now serving as cafeteria stations, the dining area, and the kitchen.

Plans for the renovation have been in discussion since 2012, two years  before freshmen arrived on campus. In November, the Board of Trustees approved contracts to begin work that will renovate facilities on an accelerated schedule to guarantee the cafeteria will be operational in time for Smart Start students in the fall.

The ambitious project calls for cafeteria stations to be expanded and the layout revised to provide better traffic circulation and increase security and safety. The new stations will feature a Bistro, with potentially extended operation hours, that will be separate from the flow of traffic accessing food. In conjunction, the new setup should better handle mealtime rushes and provide a speedy trip through the cafeteria, said John Potempa, Associate Vice President of Facilities Development & Management.

The dining area will also be remodeled to redirect the traffic flow to the front of the Lakeside Lounge, providing more room for diners. New furniture and LED lighting will be fitted to create a more aesthetically pleasing ambiance with flexibility of controls that will allow the lighting to be adjusted during peak study hours versus peak dining hours. The design will provide a  better view of the lake from the Lakeside Lounge, which will be separated from the dining area with a movable glass partition. Highlighting the beauty of Governors State’s campus will only add to the experience of living and learning at GSU.

“The lake is a major focal point and we need to be able to see it. Sitting in the Lakeside Lounge should be wonderful and inspiring for students,” said Potempa.

The kitchen will experience the most significant changes. Besides replacing obsolete, original equipment that is past its useful life, the kitchen, though smaller in scale, will be more efficiently laid out to provide room for updated equipment. These modifications will allow a greater variety of product to be served to meet demands for nutrition, quality, and variety. The infrastructure of the kitchen will be upgraded  to replace original piping still currently in use, which is difficult to service and below grade due to age, and will be rerouted to where they’ll be easier to access for service in the future. To Potempa, these changes will make all the difference.

“They need more and modern space to function. The layout is going to be more conducive to catering and staging,” he said

Demolition will begin at the end of the spring semester 2020. Simultaneously, a temporary dining center will be set up in the E-Lounge.

A limited menu will be prepared in a temporary facility but will still feature hot food, grab- and-go options, salad bar, and stocked coolers. Mushtaq Choudhary, Director of Auxiliary Housing, said the E-lounge was picked because of its central location which is easy for anyone to access. The gallery will remain open, but classrooms and halls surrounding the cafeteria should anticipate the noise of construction over the summer. To Choudhary, this is a necessity that should be well anticipated.

“Your patience will be rewarded. I can guarantee this new cafeteria will look amazing,” he said.

Construction progress can be tracked on the New Dining Center website which will share updates on the project.