Stony Brook's newest dining hall, West Side Dining, now only holds 75 students at any one time instead of the 150 seats Kelly Dining used to boast. (BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)
Stony Brook’s newest dining hall, West Side Dining, now only holds 75 students at any one time instead of the 150 seats Kelly Dining used to boast. (BASIL JOHN / THE STATESMAN)

Returning students are quick to compare the old Kelly Dining facility to the new one; the old, dust laden walls of the original Kelly dining center do not stand a chance against any comparison of the gleaming glass walls that hold up the new center. The floor is clean, and the entire building seems to have a certain crisp organization to it.

It was a well-known fact that Kelly was one of the best places to eat on campus last year. The pizza was always on point and the burritos outranked any made by the Union or Roth. The shining point of Kelly was always the convenience store, saving any student from taking the long bus ride to Wal-Mart every other week. So I went in with the idea that West Side was an upgrade to Kelly’s greatness.

But the thrill of New Kelly seemed to end the minute I walked through the shiny glass doors. The lines for dinner mimicked the abysmal mess that is the Student Activity Center at rush hour, which was expected. The only difference here was that this giant building does not have the capacity to hold the same volume of people, so the place became crowded in a matter of moments.

What is even more disappointing to note is the seating arrangement. Tables are scattered around the central cooking area, adding to the congestion and inhibiting easy movement from one line to another. The worst is this: there are only 75 available seats right now for a dining facility that adds on 8,000 square feet. Old Kelly was able to seat about 160 students at one time, so this a major downgrade.

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When I went to eat dinner with my friends, we ended up moving over to the GLS center because every single table was full. For a facility feeding hundreds of students a day, 75 seats is nowhere near enough.

After sitting down at the GLS center, I had my first chance to taste the food. I had gone to the International Market, seeing as it was the shortest line at the time, and paid about $8 for cold rotisserie chicken with a side of bland mac and cheese and brown rice, which was more than disappointing.  Students who ate at Bob’s BBQ complained that it was not any more glamorous than Charcoals. In fact, one student sadly cited that his philly cheesesteak was about “80 percent bread and 20 percent meat” and that he expected more from a place that had advertised an improvement.

But the reports from customers have not all conceded in negativity. The gelato at the Corner Café was noted to be “surprisingly better than the café from last year” and the Eastern Cuisine has so far outranked any other Asian-themed food on campus. That being said, West Side seems to be missing a lot of the highlights of Kelly. Where is the pizza? Where are the burritos? The staples of old Kelly have disappeared, as has the convenience store. The once cozy atmosphere of Kelly Café has dissipated into the mess of the entire dining area, destroying the very idea of having a little café with cake and fresh cookies. The Fish Market does not even exist anymore.

From my first experience, phase one of West Side has not proven itself to be so much of an upgrade as it is a downgrade from the original Kelly dining. Phase two is tentatively set for completion next summer, adding on a Panini station, a pizza place, a salad bar and a grab and go express, as well as a larger seating area. For now, students are able to access items from the old convenience store at the Seawolves marketplace in the SAC, but instead of being able to use their meal points, they must pay with Wolfie’s Wallet.
The student body has already waited two years for West Side to open, and so far, the reviews are only sub-par. Phase two hopefully brings in better, hotter food and many more tables, because at this point, I would happily take back the dirty floors of Kelly dining over the new West Side facility.

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