The $23 million renovation to Kelly Dining Center, known as West Side Dining, or “New Kelly” as many students are calling it, was met with a mix of modest praise and sharp criticism after its fall 2013 debut.
After a construction process spanning nearly two years, the 8,000-square-foot building was officially opened on New Student Orientation Day on Friday, Aug. 23. Phase one of the building’s renovation features eateries such as Corner Café, Bob’s BBQ, International Market, Kelly Deli and Eastern Cuisine.
Bob’s BBQ honor’s retired Chemistry Professor Bob Kerber, an advocate for advancing the Faculty Student Association facilities, services and programs including the renovation of Kelly Dining Center. The eatery is notably the only smokehouse barbecue-dedicated restaurant on campus and is central to West Side Dining’s fresh aesthetic.
Phase two of construction, which does not yet have an endpoint, will be built where Kelly Café stood last year and will feature a restaurant for pizza and panini, a salad bar and a grab-and-go section.
According to the West Side Dining website, student input for the project was gathered through surveys and focus groups conducted by both the FSA and an independent design consultant.
The student response after week one of “New Kelly” is polarized. The efficiency of service, quality of food and overall design of the building has been brought into immediate question by students.
“I ordered a sandwich called The Wolf a few days ago and the lady behind the counter had no idea what was on it,” sophomore computer science major Rezaul Hassan said. “I ended up just listing the ingredients, but when I got to the register to pay, I was charged more money than The Wolf actually costs.”
Service mishaps are to be expected within the first few weeks of West Side’s opening, but returning students, having endured a lengthy wait and an inconvenient construction period, have high expectations for the newly opened dining center.
Freshmen, unaffected by past inconveniences of West Side Dining’s construction, offer a similarly negative opinion of the dining center’s initial performance.
“I heard decent reviews of West Side Dining’s food from other students,” freshman music major Samuel Vodopia said. “But when I actually got there, it didn’t live up to the quality I had expected.”
Lauded as a “state of the art” facility on its official website, West Side Dining’s design was met with lukewarm support from students.
“It’s only a little better than old Kelly design-wise,” Hassan said. “I still have to traverse through new Kelly’s maze of people and dodge left and right so I don’t spill my food while I’m trying to get to a seat.”
“You’d think they’d try a little harder to solve the problem of bad traffic flow,” he continued. “I guess our need for comfort and mobility isn’t as important as having a cool, shiny building.”