Food courts challenge the college cafeteria

Nontraditional eating establishments are winning the student vote

July 01, 2001 |

In an effort to attract students and better serve their culinary tastes, universities around the country are asking building teams to create food courts, cafés and other alternatives to the classic cafeteria and the dingy dining hall.

Loyola College in Baltimore, Md., for example, now has a bilevel cafeteria called Primo's, which seats almost 500 students. A chef's table serves hot and grilled foods, and a pasta/pizza station offers Italian selections. A bakery and a small grocery provide everything from packaged foods to fresh produce.

Hospitality Services Inc. (HSI), a Baltimore-based food planning and design firm, redesigned Loyola's traditional cafeteria to create this "college marketplace."

Loyola also commissioned HSI to create its Boulder Garden Café, which features a Taco Bell Express. It is located in another area on campus.

In designing Primo's, HSI used natural finishes such as stone and wood, with lighting that enhances the space by highlighting the food.

Only one school year was allowed to upgrade the 40-year-old building, which was continually occupied by more than 700 residents. The work included upgrading to Americans with Disabilities Act, safety and ventilation standards. An electronic precipitator, which was used to remove grease and smoke from the kitchen exhaust, required a complicated network of underground ductwork and air-handlers to clean, as 75 feet of exhaust canopies were found in the building.

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