Students will have a new set of dining choices on West Campus when they return to Duke in the Fall.
With the plans for renovations to West Union, students will find some old favorite eateries displaced or missing all together, but students will find new venues at which to spend their food points.
Duke Dining will offer three new options in the upcoming academic year, said Rick Johnson, assistant vice president of student affairs for housing, dining and residence life. The Bryan Center will hold frozen yogurt vendor Red Mango and a new and more expansive version of The Loop Pizza Grill and the Events Pavillion will handle the cafeteria-style services previously offered in the Great Hall.
“The mission of Duke Dining is to create and facilitate community on campus by providing great healthy food, great service, and a place for students, faculty and staff to come together to break bread, talk, reflect and enjoy,” Johnson said.
Johnson previously told The Chronicle that he recognizes that the temporary closing of West Union will put a strain on HDRL and the Duke community that wishes to eat on West Campus.
Both Subway and Chick-fil-A, which have resided in the West Union, did not have their contracts renewed, and will not return to campus following West Union renovations.
“Some negative effects during construction are unavoidable, but there is no reason why Duke should not work to provide additional services for students in the interim,” senior Stefani Jones, president of Duke Student Government, wrote in her presidential agenda. “While these measures will be at additional cost to the University, it is unacceptable to put the burden of construction on the student eating experience.”
Jones added that she—in conjunction with sophomore Lavanya Sunder, DSG vice president for services—will begin meeting dining vendors in person after returning to Durham on August 1.
“I’ve already started talking with Duke about expanding options, hours and the number of food trucks for next year,” she said.
Duke Dining began planning for the closing of West Union over two years ago, Johnson said.
He added that the first phase of the plan was to replace the “under-performing, dark” Alpine location in the Bryan Center with Au Bon Pain, a vibrant, high volume restaurant that has been hugely popular with students.
The second phase of the plan was to expand the offerings in the space formerly occupied by Armadillo Grill and do a major renovation of the area, Johnson said.
“Dining attempted to work with Armadillo Grill and asked them to keep their menu and explore ways to expand their offerings, but ultimately Armadillo declined to improve their space or entertain additional menu offerings for students,” he said.
The overwhelming favorite in the replacement process was The Loop, Johnson noted.
“It is doubtful that the Dillo could have beaten out the Loop even if they did bid,” he said. “The new Loop will be great.”
The last phase of the plan—and the most exciting—is the Events Pavilion, Johnson said. The Pavilion will ultimately offer space for meetings and events, but it will house temporary dining for two years and should approximate the Great Hall.
“When other schools plan renovations to major dining facilities, students are most often relegated to a tent for two years,” Johnson said. “The Pavilion, however, is indicative of Duke’s commitment to students and to the student experience.”
He added that it is a beautiful addition to student life that will serve students well for two years of temporary dining before transitioning into a student events pavilion for many years to come.