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.

West Side Dining, formerly Kelly Dining, opened this semester to a mix of student response. Photo by Basil John.
West Side Dining, formerly Kelly Dining, opened this semester to a mix of student response. (PHOTO BY: BASIL JOHN)

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.

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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.

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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.”

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2 comments

  1. Wow that’s one really harsh review Dan. Fortunately, I haven’t had a similar experience as of yet at New Kelly (or “the glass building” as us ignorant freshmen like to call it), but I absolutely agree with many of the things he says about the place.

    First off, the design of the entire building is really impractical and inefficient. The kitchen area is far too large and takes up much more than half of the floor space in the entire building. Not only that, but it doesn’t seem that half of it gets used at any given time.

    As of right now I can deal with the cooks being a little inexperienced seeing as the building is new, but they don’t seem to know how make the food efficiently or have enough workers to MAKE it efficient. The poor cashier at the Asian cuisine side had to make both the drinks and take the customers’ cash/ID card while everyone else was piling up behind him as they ordered. Maybe another worker would be useful, or maybe another whole cash register altogether. And thus wait times continue to suffer.

    But to continue about the design flaws, the seats are always filled with previous patrons and there’s no place to sit and be comfortable without elbowing someone next to you. I usually just eat outside on the steps or make my way on over to the Global Studies and Humanities Center to eat (there’s usually nobody in there if you’re looking for some space or a place where you can actually hear the person sitting across from you fyi).

    As for the food quality, again as a freshman, I don’t know what the food was like before, but it seems alright to me. I mean, it’s EDIBLE and I need food to live so I’m not complaining.

    But one thing I can complain about are the prices. In fact, almost everything at Stony Brook is priced astronomically high. 9$ for an Asian food roll? 6$ for mozzarella bread sticks? I can get a double patty cheeseburger for 4.50$ instead and be twice as full! The burgers are the only food here that are modestly priced, and even those are expensive (I can get a Big Mac at Mickey D’s or a Whopper at BK for less than the price of a “Fresh Burger” anywhere on campus). Not to mention I usually get my order wrong or just intentionally BS’d. For example, at the SAC, I usually get a burger there ‘cuz it’s one of the most inexpensive options that’ll fill my stomach. Unfortunately, the cooks there more often than not get my order wrong in one way or another. I never get tomato on my burger and of the last four times I’ve gone, I’ve gotten a nice red slice of vegetable sitting on the cheese. The way the cooks see it, if one thing is wrong on the order, their customer won’t get angry enough to come back and ask for another. So why bother getting it right the first time?

    Cons:
    Congested and confusing lines
    Too big of a kitchen (which doesn’t seem to be operating at full or even half capacity) with not enough eating space
    Order is usually wrong
    Order usually takes a long time to get to the customer
    Prices are super expensive (I’m on the Platinum plan and I feel I might run out by the end of the semester)
    Workers are inexperienced and inefficient
    Not enough workers period
    Plus, the TVs are down every other day so you don’t know what you can order

    Pros:
    Food’s alright, but could always use improvement

    actually I’ve got nothing else for pros
    ..the outside is shiny?

    Hm.

  2. I write this while sitting in front of me is a cold piece of fried chicken smothered in a puddle of hot sauce and liquid bleu cheese between two buns.
    I ordered this at 11:50pm.

    I received this three minutes shy of 12:30am.

    Thirty seven minutes.

    During that time, I watched the untrained workers stare off into space, walk to other parts of the building, and fist bump one another. It wasn’t until almost the thirty minute mark that the manager (who was clearly hired because he is white and not because he is competent) was nearby for me to say a word (I couldn’t even get eye contact from the cooks). And when I did, another ten minutes until he hurriedly threw my meal into a box he also nicely covered in hot sauce for me.

    It would be one thing if the building was designed with waiting around in mind (versus the mob one must stand in whilst they wait).
    It would be one thing if the food wasn’t outrageously priced.
    It would be one thing if the food’s outrageous prices wasn’t IN ADDITION TO ~$610 per semester per student to pay for building terrible things like this.
    It would be one thing if it actually TASTED GOOD (can you imagine?)
    But it’s not one thing. It’s everything.
    This is the norm at new Kelly.
    If only we weren’t trapped consumers, maybe something might change.
    But we are. So they’ll keep vacuuming up our cash.

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