The highly anticipated, newly renovated Parkside College Dining Hall opened to rave reviews on December 9. The $6.4 million dollar project broke ground in May and provides Parkside College residents with a state-of-the art facility and exciting new dining concepts in a dynamic environment. Students expressed great enthusiasm in the following article, which appeared in the Long Beach Register on December 10:
New Dining Hall Has 'em Gushing
Gone are the days of roughing it for students in the Parkside dorms at Cal State Long Beach.
On Monday, the newly renovated dining hall at the dorms was open for business for the first time, revealing a fired-up brick pizza oven, supersized TVs and stools where students can watch their food being made.
“I think it was worth the wait,” said Jayme Gomez, 19. “I was really surprised when I came in. I almost wanted to cry.”
In the six-month period while the $6.4 million facelift was underway, students were redirected to a temporary kitchen housed in trailers dubbed Camp Parkside that accommodated as many students as possible but didn't make quite the same impression as the new facility.
Among the additions at the permanent structure are lockers where students can leave their bags while they dine and a new entrance for better flow into the building.
Before the start of classes Monday morning, students lined up at the new omelet bar and stopped by the cereal station at the bright and modern facility. Students at the movable tables discovered their iPads and other devices could tap into the building's Wi-Fi. More outlets spread throughout the building mean devices—like their owners—can juice up before class.
Katie Thomson, 20, works at the entrance swiping student ID cards and doles out to-go containers. She was also one of the first people to see students react to the transformation.
“I've heard, ‘Oh, my gosh. This is so awesome,' ‘This is fancy,' ‘This is amazing,'” Thomson said. She feels the same way. “I love it,” she said.
Parkside's dining hall has had makeovers since its initial 1982 construction, but this one is the first comprehensive remodel the building has had, said Carol Roberts-Corb, director of housing and residential life. Funds for the overhaul came from the department's reserves.
The building, which is lit with natural light, is expected to receive a LEED Silver designation, Roberts-Corb said. Hillside College, which has one of the three residential dining halls, will have a similar renovation beginning next summer, Roberts-Corb said.
The process to change the dining hall began more than two years ago and included input from students, various departments and then-President F. King Alexander, with the goal of making the dining hall more than just a place to drop in for food.
It was designed as a place for students to hang out between meals.
“The facility was showing its age, and the present layout and interior décor was in need of upgrading to reflect the current trend of providing a multifunctional space where students can eat, study and relax,” Roberts-Corb said in an email. “This, coupled with the current trend of exhibition cooking and providing a variety of meal types, necessitated the need for redoing the present kitchen and server to accommodate the new changes.”
The new look was surprising for 19-year-old Sarah Sorensen.
“It's crazy. It's like a restaurant,” Sorensen said. “It's just so open. It's cool you can see them making the food, like, behind the scenes.”
The new look is like that of a high-end restaurant, said 18-year-old Courtney Brooke.
“It doesn't look college-y at all,” Brooke said. “It looks like the dining, buffet places in Vegas. It looks more high-class. It's just nicer than your average school cafeteria.”