This summer, General Manager of Dining Services Diane Welker had the opportunity to use the feedback of students and the observations she made over her time at Knox to help rennovate the Caf.
The changes modernized the serving area and focused on improvements for students and staff.
“I would say that safety and convenience were the two main objectives, ” Welker said.
An important change for safety was rehauling the corridor between the Oak Room and the Caf. The previous set-up had students walking through a section of the kitchen, right past a grill that was often being used. The renovations separated the corridor from the kitchen and enlarged it to make it easier for students to pass each other.
“Another thing would be just the overall flow of students, [which] is something that we took large consideration into. That’s why you see the soda machines moved to the other side of food service,” Welker said.
Also, Dining Services staff can now access the back of the stations without having to carry hot trays of food through students. The staff movement was both a safety hazard and a flow issue.
Welker also emphasized that students do not need to wait in line for stations they do not want to use. With the stations more spread out, students have more room to go where the wait is short.
“Come in and go to where you want, ” Welker said. “And you can always backtrack to those areas when the line is down.”
One potential problem with this plan is that students do not know where things are, as former Student Senate Dining Services Committee chair junior Irene Stephenson pointed out. She also said she noticed some students were worried about seating early on, but that those issues seem to have worked themselves out.
The bar seating at the window is a result of student suggestions through the Student Senate committee. According to Welker, with the Oak Room now open for all meals and the tables inside it rearranged, the total seating has actually increased from last year.
“I know some people are sad there’s not a Fat Cave and stuff, but I think it looks nicer. That was, I know, a goal, just to more modernize it, because when you go to other schools, the cafeterias just look nice and ours just kind of looked old,” Stephenson said.
Along with the window seating and general improvement in aesthetics, Welker was also proud of the pizza oven and the salad station. The salad station now has a prep surface behind it, which allows staff to monitor and prep food before it runs out.
“We’re really proud of the pizza oven. Not only does it look really cool, but it pushes out many more pizzas in a short period of time as well as, I think, giving it a better flavor. And I think proof of that is we can’t keep up with pizza,” Welker said.
Changes took place in the kitchen, too. A scullery for washing pots and pans was moved closer to the dish room and old refrigerator units no longer working were removed. A new Executive Chef, Joe Peterson, also joined Knox.
“Everything else is about the same, it was just relocating the scullery for what made sense and getting rid of dead units that took up space unnecessarily,” Welker said.