The sound of jackhammers clatter in Hunsaker Plaza as construction continues on the former Plaza Market and University Club. Construction to renovate both locations began mid-way through October, and has been progressing at a steady pace in the time since. Many students are curious as to what’s to come with these new dining options. Both spaces are being turned into completely new dining experiences that will add more variety to students’ daily life.
The Plaza Market is currently being remodeled into the Test and Launch Kitchen, a place where Harvest Table will partner with local vendors, like street truck vendors and local chefs, to create a constant change and rotation of food concepts being provided, John Gula, head of Harvest Table, explained.
Gula described how the system will run, having visiting chefs come in for a few days a week to provide food for the students. A different vendor or a program possibly run by Harvest Table themselves will come in and provide different food options. It will also be providing more retail food options, as well as more Vegan options to meet students’ demands.
“It will be a constant change, and also looking for ideas of things to implement into the regular dining program, menus and recipes and ideas, which is why we call it the Test and Launch. It’s always going to be something new, something interesting, always something to look forward to,” Gula said.
The room will have a removable partition wall that will allow for private events, as well as being able to separate the current Plaza Cafe as that will be joining the All-You-Care-to-Eat system.
The Test and Launch Kitchen will operate on hours similar to the previous Plaza Market.
Gula also explained that Harvest Table is aware of the students’ need for a market to buy food when in a rush, and reassures that they are looking into other places on campus that could possibly house such a location.
With these changes, the former University Club is also being transformed into The Den, which will be a coffee shop and casual pub hybrid. The casual eatery will operate on a fixed menu with it operating as a coffee shop/cafe during the day, and a bistro in the evenings, giving it similar hours to the Bulldog Java & Juice.
Harvest Table is looking into bringing in local breweries to serve beer and wine there, as well as continuing to offer Augie’s Coffee. The other offerings will be similar to typical bistro options, like flat-bread pizzas and wings. The goal is for The Den to become a casual hang out location for students, with it having music and television, and it will not require paid entry unlike The Table.
If you were to walk in now, you’d see that The Den has been stripped down to open walls and bare floors, but once it opens it will have a cooler atmosphere, with wood finishes, a coffee counter and bar, and sit down seating. Roger Cellini, The Director of Facilities on campus, said the coffee bar will be on the far wall near the front windows, allowing for students to be able to retrieve their food without having to enter. Like the Test and Launch Kitchen, it will also have partition walls for more private dining options.
In contrast, the Test and Launch Kitchen is having very few changes to its layout, but will have the chefs preparing the food for the students to observe.
They are also bringing GrubHub to The Den in the Spring Semester, so students will be able to order food from various other places on campus and pick it up at the new pick-up windows that will be at the front of The Den.
Both the Test and Launch Kitchen and The Den will allow for payments through both Dining Dollars and Meal Swipe transactions.
The construction is currently aiming to be completed by February 20th, 2020, with a soft opening over Spring Break.
Images provided by Harvest Table.