Campus dining debuts new setup

Communal seating in the caf, Fresh Xpress shop in the CLC highlight changes

Newswire photos by Hannah Paige Michels | The new communal seating in Hoff Dining Commons (left) was developed to allow more students to use the space while renovations continue in the Gallagher Student Center. It’s still undecided whether or not the change will become permanent. Conaton Fresh Xpress (right) recently opened in the Conaton Learning Commons, replacing Faves on the fourth floor. 

It’s no secret that change is a four-letter word at Xavier. Chartwells taking over most on-campus dining options and renovations in Gallagher Student Center (GSC) have met both pushback and praise. With GSC’s construction underway and some new retail spaces operational, Xavier’s dining situation is starting to clear up.

Though unnoticed by many first-years, older students were quick to comment on the new communal dining arrangement in the Hoff Dining Commons (the caf).

“I don’t like the communal seating because I like to be able to sit alone or with just one other person if I choose to,” senior Evelyn Garrett said. “I’d prefer to have the option to give people the social cue that I want to eat alone or with just a couple of other people.”

“Just admit you don’t have enough seats at the table, in more ways than one,” senior Lauren Dencker joked.

First-year students didn’t seem too bothered by the change. “I didn’t really expect anything different,” first-year Trevor Russell said.

“I kind of like it,” first-year Jordan Clarke said. “My high school was kind of the same way.”

A sign outside the caf describes the communal dining as a “return to tradition” and a way to interact with others in the heart of campus. The main reason for the change, however, is simply space.

“During certain peak times, we are at capacity,” chef Tim Belting said. “In reality, this is what we have to do.”

Senior Director of Dining Edward Devoid added that while space is the main reason for the change, the resulting communal setting isn’t such a bad thing.

According to Devoid, in past years when the incoming class was particularly large, students were forced to sit on the steps in the caf because there weren’t enough seats to accommodate everyone. Limited dining options in GSC and the size of the incoming first-year class mean the caf now has to accommodate more students than normal, resulting in the communal setup. It’s still undecided if the current arrangement is here to stay.

Besides the changes in the caf, returning students will also notice that in the Conaton Learning Commons (CLC), Faves is now Conaton Fresh Xpress. The space, originally known as X-Spot, has always been used for student-run businesses but had been empty for a few years before Faves opened.

Conaton Fresh Xpress is managed by senior Ethan Schuld and is overseen by Chartwells. With this involvement and support, people like Dining Director Teresa Poulos are able to help hire employees faster, order food from vendors efficiently and extend operation hours.

Fresh X-Press 1
Newswire photo by Hannah Paige Michels | The Fresh X-Press, located in the CLC, will provide additional food options for students during the renovations.

When the space was X-Spot, some of the profits were used to fund a university scholarship. This program has not been restarted since, but with Conaton Fresh Xpress’ success in the start of the semester, doubling its sales every day, Devoid said, “there’s no reason why we can’t do something like that again.”

Belting said there’s a misconception that Chartwells approached Xavier about the dining changes. “Xavier University came to us and asked us if we’d be willing to do those things,” Belting said. Devoid, Belting and Poulos all said that renovations in the 16-year-old GSC were inevitable. But these changes were spearheaded by Xavier, not Chartwells.

Devoid added he found it unusual that Chartwells wasn’t controlling all dining and retail spaces on campus to begin with.

“This is the first school where the contractor, and I’ve worked for multiple, didn’t have their hands in everything,” Devoid said. “By making everything under one umbrella…it gives better value to the students…This university, because it made sense, said we need to renovate Gallagher.”

Devoid is proud of Xavier’s mentality to make big investments to change and improve aspects of campus. Even though Hoff is only 7 years old, equipment is already being changed and updated to ensure everything continues to run smoothly for students.

Devoid is aware that these changes are utilizing students’ tuition dollars, and his main concern is that students feel they are getting value out of their meal plans and dining choices.

By: Hannah Paige Michels | Staff Writer