Campus / News / Taylor Lounge / October 2, 2008

Student-run pizzeria? It could happen

Wallace Lounge lay dilapidated and mostly unused during the 07-08 school year. Now, plans passed by Student Senate at the end of last year for the lounge’s revitalization are gaining momentum. Included in these plans is the possibility of an on-campus pizzeria and delivery service.

“What the original thought and concept was,” Director of Facilities Scott Maust said, “is to make a place for students to be able to socialize, study, to have kind of an after-hours distinct type of eatery other than the normal Caf-Gizmo type of foods, and at the end of the school year we came up with the design that basically would give us a games room that would actually have a pizzeria in there.”

Dining Services Director Helmut Mayer has planned out some ambitious steps for the development.

“If you look at the blueprints that exist for the new space,” Dining Services Director Helmut Mayer said, “the layout on the dining side, on the service side of things, is like a bar…at the same time there is a small kitchen in the back. If at all possible, if we do pizza, I’d like to do a delivery system. So if you live in Post Hall, its 1:30 am, it’s still in time and you can order a pizza that gets delivered to your door. If I do pizza, then I’d want to take that step.”

Even more interesting is the idea that this new on-campus food service could be student operated. The Human Rights Center Task Force was originally poised to boycott any installation in Wallace Lounge, but is now planning on petitioning the administration to see greater student control of what is eventually put in.

[A boycott] was the initial idea,’ Vicki Daza, co-president of Students Without Borders said, “but right now…. after talking with KARES, which is the main group involved, because [Wallace Lounge] is where the Free Store was, we decided that instead we are going to petition a proposal of having another type of use [for] that space, preferably a student-run space.”

As it stands, Knox currently has its own plans for the Free Store.

“I’ve been working with them since last spring to work on a place to move the Free Store so it also has a place to be,” said Craig Southern, associate dean of students in Campus Life. “Wallace was never the end result of where it was going to be. [Conger-Neal] is the main area we’re looking at, and we’re probably 90 percent sure it’s going to end up being down there.”

The Free Store, known for spilling out into nearly all of Wallace Lounge due to students’ generosity, might have a hard time finding room in the future.

“It may not be able to be as expansive as it was,” said Southern, “but what I see when I go down there right now, you can also look at it as there is absolutely no rhyme or reason to what it is, you just kind of look. The Free Store doesn’t have to be ‘inviting’ per se, but a place where we can actually do something with the area, and work on it with the people who are in charge of it.”

Should the Free Store be moved, however, the idea of a student-run space is still on the table. Student run corporations on college campuses exist across the country, but this would be a first for Knox College.

“If there’s a concept, if there’s a business plan, I’d be happy to look at that,” Mayer said. “I have no problem with that at all. But it needs to happen rather quickly, a business doesn’t grow on a tree, right? If that’s something that the administration is willing to also support, I’d be happy to help it get off the ground. Actually, this is the first I’ve heard of the idea.”

Even if it were to be student run, some oppose the idea of anything being built that would end up competing with local businesses.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea,” Elizabeth Coleman said. “Businesses in Galesburg rely on Knox students to an extent we don’t really realize. We’re a huge part of the economy. Pizza places are a huge amount of the Galesburg businesses because we buy pizza. If we had a pizza place here, we would stop buying from them and start shutting down the town even further.”

Fortunately, what is being envisioned for Wallace is hopefully going to be something completely different than what is currently available.

“I’m looking right now at a pizza concept that comes out of New Orleans, and it’s called ‘the world’s healthiest pizza.’ It’s a gluten free product,” Mayer said. “I thought that if we do pizza, it needs to not be Dominos or whatever else may be, because it is an already not very healthy food item. If we went that route, have it actually [be] something that you could eat without having the perception of it being bad for you.”

As it stands, it looks like Wallace Lounge will be developed as a study lounge/student assembly and social interaction area, with a Dining Services run food service station, though in this last weeks Student Life Committee meeting it was clarified that nothing is set in stone as of yet.. Until things are settled and construction actually begins, the situation remains fluid and open to change. Change that may be more readily accepted than expected.

“In the end,” Mayer said, “I’ll have less work if it’s someone else’s problem, right?”

Andrew Polk

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