West Union renovations have caused a shuffle of existing dining options, edging out some campus favorites but bringing in fresh new eateries as well.
Although many campus eateries have closed, there are two brand new dining options on campus. Frozen yogurt lovers can now find Red Mango downstairs in the Bryan Center for a bowl of self-serve yogurt or a smoothie. Students can also visit the Events Pavilion for a la cartè food, similar to that of the Great Hall, behind the new and improved University Store.
With the reshuffle, however, some campus residents have complained that Duke did not communicate the changes very clearly.
"A lot of people weren't aware and didn't know about the changes," said sophomore Megan Brown.
West Union housed five restaurants in previous years—Subway, Chick-fil-a, Alpine Bagels, Great Hall and The Loop. The clearing of West Union, however, has eliminated Subway and Chick-fil-a. It has also temporarily closed Alpine Bagels and the Great Hall. The Loop moved into the Bryan Center to replace Armadillo Grill in the space next to McDonalds.
The University began funding the four-part dining project in 2011, said Rick Johnson, assistant vice president for housing and dining. First, Au Bon Pain moved into the Bryan Center last year to serve 2,000 people daily in contrast to the 400 that were served when Alpine Atrium occupied the space. The second step brought Red Mango and the third introduced an ABP cart on the plaza for grab-and-go options. Lastly, the Divinity School Refectory will open for dinner.
Brown, who studied abroad over the summer, said the sign on the Bryan Center Plaza advertising the new building fails to convey important details about which restaurants left, relocated or emerged on campus.
Sophomore Danielle Scarano also said many students weren't aware of the changes. She noted, however, that she likes the Events Pavilion better than the Great Hall.
Staff have responded positively to the changes on campus.
Ps’Sion Grimsley, a staff member at the southern comfort food station at the Events Pavilion, was involved with Duke restaurants before the changes. She is happy with some of the changes and not worried about accommodating the influx of Duke students, unless the venues get a lot of off-campus visiting groups.
“The new building is awesome," Grimsely said. "But I wish we could add new options and more space."
Joy Shearin, a staff member at Panda Express, also feels comfortable with the increase in student demand because Duke provides great staff.
"Everything's been running smoothly," Shearin said.
Johnson said the changes were inspired because West Union has not been renovated in fifty years and was ill-equipped for its central location and position in campus life.
"Students and faculty mentioned that the West Union was not adequate anymore," he said.
Johnson said that with the changes, students will be happy and have easy access to great food as West Union is renovated.
When West Union renovations are completed and features its own eateries, the Pavilion will become a student gathering space.