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Standalone dining hall on track for Fall 2020 opening with new menu plans

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The first standalone dining hall between the Business Leadership Building and the Highland Street Garage is currently within budget and set to open Fall 2020, with concepts for menus underway and retail options still uncertain.

Associate Vice President of Auxiliary Services Daniel Armitage said while there have been some delays in the design for the dining hall, construction is on schedule and it is within its $25.47 million dollar budget.

“The foundation footings are being poured right now,” Armitage said. “The elevator shaft is the core foundation for that. They’re basically putting everything in for the foundation, and then the walls will start probably within the next 45 days.”

The site of UNT’s new dining hall sits under construction behind the Business Leadership building on Oct. 14, 2019. Image by Theophilus Bowie

“What we would like to do is find some retail concept that would encourage some students to try that retail dining location rather than going into the Union,” Armitage said. “There are 100 different opinions and we’ve started at some of those opinions and worked through them and some of those opinions have proven to not be functional [or] workable. We’re still trying to identify what that retail location might be.”The dining hall will also include approximately 3,000 square feet of retail dining space with the intent of reducing traffic from the Union.

While retail dining options are still uncertain, Dining Services is working on the menus for the dining hall. The dining hall will feature bays, like those of a food court in a mall, where students can swipe in and have the option of various types of cuisine.

“Based on student input throughout the process, there will be several different concepts in the dining hall, giving guests a ‘food hall’ experience inspired by Legacy Hall in Plano,” Dining Services Communications Manager Alyssa Torrance said. “All of these concepts will be available with one swipe into the dining hall, so we anticipate even more students will become Meal Plan Members to take advantage of the significant price savings our meal plans offer.”

Torrance listed the following as the current menu plans for the new dining hall:

  •       Old-fashioned comfort food with a twist, including fried chicken, burgers and breakfast all day
  •       Italian concept with a pizza oven and pasta toss
  •       Asian-inspired wok concept
  •       Latin street food concept with a tortilla press, fresh salsa station, etc.
  •       Wood-smoked concept with meats, veggies and more
  •       Plant-forward concept featuring greens and herbs grown at Mean Green Acres, our campus organic non-GMO hydroponic garden as well as ancient grains, soups du jour and vegan selections
  •       Bakery concept with fresh bread and pastries, warm desserts, ice cream, etc.

Sociology freshman Cameron Kincaid said he enjoys the current dining options but he is interested in the new dining hall’s menu and retail possibilities and wants to continue having a meal plan after his freshman year.

“I’m pretty satisfied with everything,” Kincaid said. “[The planned menu] sounds well-rounded. Maybe something focused around breakfast, like an IHOP, would be pretty nice.”

Armitage said construction on the dining hall would be completed in time for next fall semester.

“Right now, substantial completion is scheduled for summer of ’20, with furniture and everything moving in time in July and August and so we’re looking to have it open in the fall,” Armitage said.

Meanwhile, Dining Services is looking to finalize the menus and decide on a name for the dining hall.

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“UNT is committed to having an impact on the food ecosystem by providing the highest quality, healthy and sustainable options for our students,” Torrance said. “The new dining facility will reemphasize UNT’s commitment to using fresh, local ingredients and help us remain a leader in the campus dining industry.”

Featured Image: The site of UNT’s new dining hall sits under construction behind the Business Leadership building on Oct. 14, 2019. Image by Theophilus Bowie

Article Originally Published by on North Texas Daily

Source: North Texas Daily

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