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Changes to Commons, Meal Plans, to Enhance Student Dining

Posted 02/24/2014
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Category: Student Announcements
A rendering of the renovated Commons dining area.

A rendering of the renovated Commons dining area.

The University, in collaboration with Dining Services, has announced significant changes to both the physical structure of the Commons dining facility and the meal plans offered to resident and commuter students.

Together, these changes will enhance the student dining experience with greater flexibility, better value, more variety, and a more inviting space.

“Dining is an integral part of the overall campus experience,” said Arosha Jayawickrema, vice president of finance and administration. “Having a comfortable, fun space where you can hang out with friends over a great meal is instrumental to getting the most out of your time away from home.”

Informational meetings about the upcoming changes will be held in the weeks to come. Please watch UNotes and your University of Hartford email for details.

Physical Transformation of the Commons

The University Commons dining facility is scheduled to undergo a dramatic transformation over the spring and summer. Improvements also will be made to the Hawk’s Nest. Dining Services is partnering with the University to fund the improvements.

The Commons dining hall, which was built in 1970, was designed to provide food for approximately 1,400 students. Today, it serves more than 2,500 students per day.

Preliminary construction work will begin next month. The lower level of the Commons, including the Hawk’s Nest, will close on March 17, when construction crews begin preparatory work. Exterior foundation work for a new window wall will begin in early April, weather permitting, and construction in the dining hall will begin on May 15. The renovations are scheduled for completion in mid-August.

“This renovation has been a dream for many years,” said Bridgett Stapleton, resident district manager for ARAMARK. “The dining team is thrilled to be part of this transformation, which will improve upon the level of services and dining amenities offered to the University of Hartford community.”

The changes will create a more inviting space, from the entrance through the servery and into the seating area, offering greater flexibility in both food preparation and variety. The dining stations will be interchangeable, so that chefs will have more options that can be created in full view of students.

The newly enhanced space will result in the following improvements:

• Completely new finishes, seating and equipment, including a brick oven

• Seating will be increased by 20 percent in a modern, restaurant-style atmosphere.

• Dishes will be prepared in front of students.

• Extended hours to accommodate students’ busy schedules

• A new allergen-free zone, complete with a private pantry for those guests with special dietary needs

• An expanded bakery and kosher kitchen

• New private dining room available to the community as needed

Meal Plan Changes

In addition to the physical transformation of the Commons dining facility, there also will be significant changes to student meal plans.

These changes are designed to provide better value and maximum flexibility for students.

The new plans will include:

Freshman Exclusive 7-Day All-Access Plan with $100 in Dining Dollars per semester
5-Day All-Access Plan with $400 in Dining Dollars per semester
200 Block (200 meals and $500 in Dining Dollars per semester)
100 Block (100 meals and $1,000 in Dining Dollars per semester)

All-Access Plans will allow students to enter the Commons dining hall as many times as they like, for a full meal or a simple snack on the run.

Block Plans will allow students 200 or 100 entries per semester. If students use up all of their blocks, they can pay with cash, Hawk Cash, or Dining Dollars at the door.

In addition, each plan holder will enjoy the benefit of five guest meals. Invite a friend to dine with you, or use them yourself!

The new dining plans will provide many advantages for students, including:

• More options to visit the dining locations where students want to go
• Expanded hours
• Options with increased Dining Dollars for those students who have on-campus kitchens
• Students on the 7-Day All-Access Plan will never run out of meals.
• There will be no limit on the number meals or daily swipes for students on the All-Access Plans.
• The 5-day All-Access Plan can be used on any five days of the week, providing students with maximum flexibility.
• Meal equivalencies will go away with the exception of the Backstage Café.
• Kosher diners will no longer pay a premium to enjoy this special service, and kosher meals can be enjoyed by all students with meal plans.

Subway is Coming to Campus!

Improvements to the University of Hartford dining program don’t stop there.

Dining Services is planning to bring additional national brands to campus over the next few years, including Subway and a Starbucks fully-licensed store.

Dining Services appreciates the feedback that students have provided throughout this process, and looks forward to implementing these exciting changes.

A rendering of the renovated Commons dining area.

A rendering of the renovated Commons dining area.