On Monday, Aug. 14, Samford students and staff received an email from Colin Coyne, vice president of finance, business affairs and strategy, regarding the reopening of the newly renovated caf.
After three and a half months of work, the $10 million project was finally finished. Students were able to enjoy the new dining experience; minus the new furniture, which came later in the month.
As soon as students walk into the University Center, the major differences in the caf are quite apparent. Instead of having one door to enter through, they have completely opened it up so into a long, spacious dining hall. The old wood and outdated blue walls have been painted over with neutral colors to make for a brighter and more welcoming look.
Additionally, the layout of the stations was changed significantly. The general manager of Samford dining, Cory Hardesty, said that the purpose of the new layout was to spread out the flow of traffic, causing less congestion.
Students no longer have to swipe in, so the caf is open for anyone to sit in. This creates the option to come into the caf without the pressure of having to use a swipe, instead students can bring in food from the restaurants downstairs, or just socialize with their friends.
Ava Berry, a junior here at Samford, expressed how she loves the new caf. Berry really enjoys the layout and the fact that people who do not have meal plans are now able to join their friends for dinner more easily.
On episode 21 of “Beck’s Bench” President Beck Taylor pointed out, “It’s almost open to the public, you can come in and study, you can be with friends, you can eat, you can really do whatever you want.”
According to Hardesty, there has been a lot of positive feedback regarding the changes. Many students and faculty expressed that it is much better than they expected, and that the openness of the space is more welcoming, allowing for more fellowship.
Hardesty spoke about how he had a very hands-on role in the project from the very beginning. “I provided input on the station design, location placement, audio and visual and equipment layout. Throughout the summer, I spent an extensive amount of time in the location, working with contractors, design team and equipment team,” he said.
With the new space allows new opprotunites for Samford to invite guest chefs to cook special dishes for students as well as host teaching sessions in the future. Samford hosted their first guest cheif, James Briscone ‘01, for stared on the Food Network channel.
While most students have enjoyed the new layout and agree that the overall quality of the food has improved, there are some who still have problems with the limited food options for those with allergies, celiac disease, gluten intolerance and people who are vegans.
Sophomore Chrissy Foshee said, “My main issue with the new caf is that they stuck the vegan chef in a tiny corner so now he can only offer one option per meal.”
Lila Zadan, another sophomore, expressed similar sentiments. Zadan lamented the lack of gluten and dairy free options. There are many people on Samford’s campus with dietary restrictions who in the past have been affected by this issue, so it is disappointing to see their options were not expanded with the renovations.
Overall, there has been a lot of positive feedback on the new renovations, but there are still things that could be improved. While the Caf has a more mosern feel with its updates, it still keeps the same feel of Samford community. Students continue to hope to see an expansion of the limited food options for those with dietary restrictions in the future.