A $2.5 million renovation and expansion to the Atherton Union Marketplace greeted students for their first meals of the semester.
The project has a dual purpose of creating more space and making cosmetic changes.
“It was obvious that we had a facility that was aging and inadequate,” Sally Click, dean of student services, said. “It will be a really welcome change.”
Not all changes were completed when the first meal was served, however.
Jerry Carlson, director of maintenance services, said that the addition will not be finished until Sept. 15.
“That is just taking longer because they had to tear down a wall and add some space outside,” Carlson said.
The addition will house a Mongolian grill and provide around 100 more seats.
Dining services is making efforts to accommodate students, especially during the lunch rush, Michelle Bryant-Jones, director of dining services, said.
The UClub adjacent to the Marketplace is open for seating when it is not being used for an event, she said, and a Grab & Go lunch option serves students who don’t have time to wait for a seat.
Click said the décor of the addition will match the existing style, updated over last year’s winter break.
The renovations inside the current structure, which began during last semester’s graduation week, were completed just before students arrived for their first meals.
These include a brick pizza oven and a bakery where students can see food prepared in front of them.
Dish service has been upgraded as well, Carlson said. Students will put their trays on an accumulator, a carousel-like machine that continuously rotates to bring dishes to a washing station in the back.
“It was a much-needed addition,” he said. “We’re pretty excited.”
The renovations have already added about 75 new seats.
Bryant-Jones said she hopes the students will enjoy the overall experience.
“You’re being offered variety,” she said. “You have space. You have a great atmosphere. You have a great meal.”
The money for the $2.5 million project comes from capital investments in the contract that Butler University has with Aramark, its food service vendor, Click said. Butler students’ money is not being used in this construction.
Click said these improvements happen every few years because of the contract.
“They’re looking at keeping those spaces fresh,” she said, “and it’s really helpful to have that capital to do that.”
Capital has been used in the past for Starbucks and Residential College dining renovations.
The changes came because students wanted them, Click said. After meetings with the Butler Cuisine Bureau and members of the Council on Presidential Affairs, the plan was created to match students’ needs and desires.
Click said she is excited to see how students react to the space.
“I really do think our environment shapes our experience,” Click said. “I think people will really enjoy being there.”