USC unveils plans to renovate dining halls
USC Hospitality will renovate EVK Restaurant and Grill and Café 84 to create more inviting atmospheres and increase made-to-order food options. The renovation plan, which includes improvements in Trojan Grounds, is scheduled to be completed Aug. 1, Director of Hospitality Kris Klinger said.
Though EVK operates as one of two residential dining halls, Café 84, currently a food court, will be renovated to serve as a third dining hall next year.
“Café 84’s transition from retail to residential was in support of an initiative by Provost [Elizabeth] Garrett to create more residential pockets on campus,” Klinger said.
The renovation of Café 84 will be modeled after Whole Foods Market, Klinger said. The improvements to EVK will be modeled after True Food Kitchen, a small chain of restaurants that Klinger described as “open and bright.”
Though many students applaud the renovations, some are disappointed that Café 84, as a residential dining hall, will require students to use swipes from a meal plan.
“The only thing I don’t like is [Café 84] is going to be swipe in and swipe out, and I won’t have a meal plan next year,” said Anna Romanoff, a freshman majoring in political science. “But for the freshmen, it will be great.”
As part of the renovation, USC Hospitality will be adding a Mongolian bar be que and a pizza oven to EVK, Klinger said. In addition, USC Hospitality will add a wider variety of seating.
Some students said that though EVK is fine in its current form, upgrades are always welcome.
“I’m OK with EVK now, but there is always room for improvement,” said Sara Littrell, a freshman majoring in chemistry. “It has a reputation as the lesser of the two dining halls.”
Though Klinger said he has been told that the food in EVK has improved, he said the facility is in big need of an upgrade. Klinger said the dining hall has not undergone significant change since he was a student at USC. He graduated in 1992.
“[EVK] just needed it,” Klinger said. “We have heard from a lot of students and parents and so on that the food has gotten a lot better, but the facility is still what it is.”
In Café 84, Klinger said USC Hospitality hopes to add more stations and seating.
“The stations are somewhat similar, but they will be refaced and redone so there will be options in regard to different made-to-order types of food,” Klinger said.
In addition to the upgrades in Café 84 and EVK, Trojan Grounds, a 24-hour convenience store on the ground floor of Birnkrant Residential College, will be transformed into a licensed Starbucks, Klinger said. Additionally, USC Hospitality will make improvements to its interior.
“Outside we can’t do too much because it’s a university building,” Klinger said. “But inside it will look totally different.”
Klinger said the university would lend USC Hospitality funds for the renovation projects.
“We use internal funds, if we can, or we borrow it from the university and pay it back over time,” Klinger said.
Klinger said his department is now working with students to elicit their opinions on what food offerings they would like in the dining hall.
“Now we are working with students [to see] what they would like to see with specific foods,” he said.
Will Morrow, a freshman majoring in business administration, said EVK could improve the freshness and quality of its food.
“It sometimes gets pretty gross,” he said.
Klinger said he hopes the dining hall renovations create a more welcoming space for students.
“We want to make sure it’s a great value,” Klinger said. “So making sure the space looks great and also [that] the food is up to that standard is important. We created a really unique environment with the campus center, in particular, and we want to make sure our residential environments match that.”