Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee learned more about the reasons for closing of Grace’s Café at its meeting Monday evening.
The Central Campus eatery will close at the end of the semester due to expensive renovations required on the kitchen ventilation system and the opening of West Union June 1. More than 850 students have signed an online petition that describes Grace’s as “the only place on campus that came close to serving authentic Asian food at an affordable price” and asks Director of Dining Services Robert Coffey to keep the café open.
Barbara Stokes, assistant director of dining operations, said Grace’s started as a small coffee shop and expanded its operations over the years to include the restaurant offerings, but was not properly equipped for the expansion.
“The hoods that were in that location weren’t built for traditional cooking,” Stokes said of the hoods above the stove tops in Grace’s. “We’ve sort of been skating by and the fire marshal and everybody has been really flexible with us and finally said you really need to fix this.”
Stokes added that another dining option will not replace Grace’s in its current location. The University is considering converting the space to either office or classroom space, Stokes said.
Senior JP Lucaci, vice president of services for Duke Student Government, asked why the University is not covering the $500,000 in renovations the space would have required.
DUSDAC chair Brian Taylor, a senior, noted that the long term plan was to move Grace’s or a similar style food option to West Union because of the looming renovation costs. A focus group comprised of DUSDAC and DSG members decided on two other vendors—Gyotaku and Ginger + Soy—instead of Grace’s after a menu-tasting competition.
In other business:
Devil’s Krafthouse, the main vendor in West Union, is slated to open Feb. 29 through March 5 to seniors only. It will open to the rest of the student body the following week. The rest of West Union is scheduled with a soft summer opening and a grand opening at the beginning of the next academic year.
DUSDAC is planning to sample food trucks to see which trucks could be potential candidates for next year’s weekly food truck rotation. Taylor said it will be similar to the one held before the Old Duke concert last year.
DUSDAC also reported that Marketplace renovations were completed, but the salad bar will not be ready this year because of shipping delays.
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