Florida A&M University students are waiting anxiously as the main dining hall wraps up its renovation process. The main dining hall, commonly referred to as the “top cafe”, was built in 1999 and opened in 2000.
The top cafe has been under construction for the past two months and is expected to be complete within the next week. With this being the first full upgrade to the top cafe, the university’s Business and Auxiliary Services assures everyone it’s “worth the wait.”
Tripp Goodwin, general manager for Metz Culinary Management, said it’s all new.
“A total remodel and fresh look including a huge salad bar and deli in the center, a new bakery, Mongolian grill and coffee station,” Goodwin said.
The refurbished style will complement the new dining hall known as the “Hub” located on the southside of campus. With the opening of the Hub and the new renovations to the main dining hall, FAMU will now have two world class eateries within a period of six months.
“We are excited to see the transformation and enhancements to the Student Services Center upstairs dining facility,” said Michael Smith, interim vice president for finance and administration.
The top cafe serves as a lifeline for eating and socializing for all students and faculty. This will be the first semester in over a year that rattlers can gather and dine upstairs. The top cafe closed in early April of 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. During that time, meals were served in the food court until the semester ended in early May.
Once the main dining hall is complete, the food court will be able to resume its role in providing students and faculty with familiar restaurant dining options including Tropical Smoothie, WingStop and The Chopping Block.
Senior and four-year meal plan holder, Shawn Holloway, believes that the top cafe is a bridge for rattlers to connect.
“Being in places like the cafe is how connections are made,” Holloway said. “It gives everyone an opportunity to meet new people and that’s what FAMU culture is all about.”
Holloway also expressed that these renovations are not only important to current rattlers, but prospective students as well.
“A few things I’m looking forward to are better food options and seeing what cool new things FAMU has to offer,” Holloway said. “People always say HBCUs are outdated but these types of renovations are important and a key component to show for recruiting.”
In what seems to be a new era at FAMU, the value of exceptional dining and camaraderie remains at its core.