Dining services cooks up renovations

Florida A&M dining services may receive major upgrades with new franchises and new floor plans if approval contracts are signed.

The $13 million proposal plan is aimed at renovating and remodeling outdated facilities.

With an investment from Sodexho, the University’s dining contractor, the campus dining committee has already presented its plan to the University. The committee consists of Student Government Association senators, class representatives and faculty and staff.

Michael Smith, director of business and auxiliary services, said University President James H. Ammons and Fred Formichella, the senior vice president of Sodexho, are negotiating contracts.

The projected six-year plan will reconstruct all dining facilities and add new ones to vacant buildings.

Along with the new facilities that Sodexho is planning, new operation hours are also under consideration.

Terry Woodard, general manager of FAMU’s dining services, said, “Students are more likely to come after 6:30 a.m., the time of opening.”

Shifting current times of the upper café, which is presently 6:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., will be more efficient, Woodard said. He therefore hopes to change the hours to 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

With the new hours will come a new look.

“So Cuisine,” the new residential dining area, will include an improved deli station across from a new coffee and bakery station in a glass-enclosed seating area with couches.

“We want more of a retail look,” Woodard said. “There will be someone inside the salad bar making salads.”

Plans for The Set include a new dining facility in the Student Union Building. The post office will move to another part of the building, but the TV room will remain. Construction will take place around the seats and TVs.

Franchises such as Taco Bell Express and Chick-fil-A are expected, along with other popular fast food restaurants. Ultimately, “it’s up to the franchise whether they want to come,” Woodard said.

The Grey-Gore Complex, which connects freshman dorms McGuinn Hall and Truth Hall, will provide food items and house a Starbucks franchise. The Palmetto apartments will have a food store as well as a coffee kiosk.

]Food items in the stores and dining services will consist of fruits and healthy snacks to reflect a holistic approach to a wellness initiative.

Rodney King, the new executive chef of campus dining, endorsed the campus-dining program because of the healthy variations the plan will produce. Food will contain less seasoning and salt and a new vegetarian station will be put in place.

“You have to put vegetables in your meal to help your diet,” King said. “We are talking about long-term health and our test becomes the education.”

Chris Gibson, a freshman political science education student from Tallahassee, said he has already seen display boards and marketing books outlining the project.

“It was very interesting, and I really respect what they are doing,” said Gibson, 19.

However, he questions the feasibility of the new plan regarding size capabilities.

“Even with the new building, it’s not going to be enough capacity with everyone on meal plans,” Gibson said.

Despite possible space issues, Woodard said they will “work with the space we have.”

For more information on dining renovations, go to http://www.famudining.com.