Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Sept. 11, 2014 Volume 36, No. 3

Campus Dining Services renovates facilities

Alternate text

Over the summer, Sabai underwent renovations to add two private dining rooms, community-style tables, a culinary development kitchen and more woks. It reopened Wednesday. Courtesy of Campus Dining Services.

Students see big changes to Plaza 900, Sabai and Emporium Café

Campus Dining Services took advantage of the summer break to make significant changes to two dining facilities. Plaza 900 and Sabai underwent approximately $8 million in renovations to accommodate more customers, emerging trends in college food service and rising student expectations.

When the tentatively titled Virginia Avenue South residence hall opens in August 2015, Campus Dining Services (CDS) will need to serve the students living in the five-story, 331-bed hall. Plaza 900 added 5,000 square feet; 250 seats to the approximately 450 already available; expanded production and food service capabilities; and increased its storage space.

Students are more likely to notice the addition of thin-crust pizza in dining options. Also, there is the reimagining of On Stage, where staff members prepare orders individually. In previous years, On Stage offered something new every day of the week, from fajitas and burritos to pasta and risotto. When Plaza 900 reopened in August, On Stage condensed its menu to focus on made-to-order stir-fried dishes.

“What we’re hearing from students is, ‘Give me more of what I want,’ ” said CDS director Julaine Kiehn. “Not more, but more of what I want.” And what the students wanted were more stir-fried options. But it’s not just for the students’ benefit, Kiehn said. It helps the staff, too. Instead of making fajitas once a month, by cooking the same dish over and over they gain expertise. In the end, it’s more effective, and CDS won’t have to stock as many products.

The Emporium, the take-out option available at Plaza 900, is being converted to a salad and sandwich concept. The renovated Emporium Café opens in January 2015.

In recent years, many colleges, including Mizzou, have shifted away from offering national brands, such as McDonald’s and Taco Bell, and toward proprietary brands.

“The good thing about doing a brand in-house is that with a national brand, you have royalties and franchise fees,” said CDS marketing manager Michael Wuest. “If you have self-branded operations, and the talent to build great culinary programs, why not keep that money on campus?”

At the MU Student Center, CDS staff smoke the meats and blend rubs for Do Mundo’s churrascaria. They make the donuts from scratch for infusion, cook the turkey for the chowder at Kate & Emma’s, and develop the recipe for the pizza sauce at Pomodoro.

When Sabai, another in-house dining facility inside Johnston Residence Hall, opened in August 2011, it wasn’t as popular as CDS had hoped; the Southeast Asian cuisine might have been a little ahead of its time. But now, students are asking for more authentic options. Over the summer, Sabai underwent renovations to add two private dining rooms, community-style tables, a culinary development kitchen and more woks. It reopened Wednesday.

Wuest hopes that CDS will soon be able to submit Sabai to the National Association of College and University Food Services’ dining awards contest. In July 2013, Mort’s won the grand prize for a university retail concept (the Emmy Award of university food service concepts). 

As CDS looks to the future, including building a dining facility opening in August 2017 to replace the Pavilion at Dobbs dining facility, Kiehn foresees a move away from the all-you-care-to-eat facilities toward á la carte service.

“It’s getting to I want what I want when I want and where I want,” Kiehn said. “The á la carte, the handheld and takeout, really tie together with the on-the-go student.”

—  Kelsey Allen