As IU students returned from spring break, they were greeted with major changes to Forest’s dining hall. Breakfast items from Scratch Café moved to Just Desserts’ location and the desserts formerly in that area moved to the round counter near the west dining room.
Director of IU residential dining Ken Field said the dining hall was last remodeled over 10 years ago and it was time for a refresh.
“When it was done at that time, it was set up to be all retail venues,” Field said. “Since then, we’ve changed the meal plan to all-you-care-to-eat, so we’re adjusting those stations to better accommodate the student volume flowing through the space.”
Because the round counterspace near the west dining room was not being used, Field said moving Just Desserts to that space helped control the student traffic around the soft serve machine. The round counterspace also has more space where hand-dipped ice cream can be served and the staff can bake fresh cookies more often with the oven behind the counter.
“I was a little confused at first because I didn’t know it was all switching around, but I like having the desserts into that room and I think it separates things in an easier way to understand,” IU dining employee and freshman Lily Walthery said.
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Field said he noticed the growing popularity of students using the Scratch Café and felt that the area needed to be expanded. To accommodate this, hot breakfast such as eggs and potatoes are now served at Spice Road, where international cuisine is served during lunch and dinner, and cold items such as fruit and yogurt are now served at Medley, the salad bar.
There is a table with different types of milk, toasters for bread and bagels and hand fruit in between Medley and the beverages. The waffle irons and new pancake machines have been moved to the former Just Desserts area and coffee is now in the beverage area, allowing waffles, pancakes and coffee to be served all day.
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“I am so glad that they put the breakfast area in the main dining hall because sometimes, I just want to have pancakes and waffles,” IU freshman and Forest Quad resident Abhi Mandava said. “I think it is way better and it allows for more food options.”
While implementing these renovations after spring break in the middle of the semester confused students, Field said it serves many benefits to him and his team.
“It allows us to test, improve and figure out what worked and what didn’t work so if we do need to make changes, we can get those implemented for next fall,” Field said. “So when the students come back and it’s so busy, we’re ready to go.”
Because the McNutt and Wright Dining Halls have a Free From IX station where foods are served with allergen-free ingredients, there are plans to replace Forest’s Scratch Café with an allergen-friendly zone for next school year and possibly allow students to cook their own food in that area.
“It will be gluten-free with a gluten-free toaster, gluten-free waffle batter and waffle maker and it will have a lot of allergen-friendly — more grab-and-go type items,” Field said. “We hopefully will have a plan done and ready to go by the fall for that space.”
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Other renovations being made include eventually switching the Spice Road and Stone Grill locations with each other, expanding the pizza and pasta area by installing new counters and heat plates, and adding new furniture and removing the carpet in all the dining areas.
“The carpet is old and it doesn’t hold up well with foot traffic and food spills, so we’re trying to make it more friendly, easier to clean, look nicer and brighter in the space,” Field said.
Field said there is a possibility future projects will be made at the Bookmarket Eatery at Wells Library and in the café inside Read Hall. There is currently a bid to renovate the entire Wright Dining Hall.