Decor that takes guests around the globe

wheaton emerson int salad bar

Restaurant design is all about catching a customer’s eye —and it’s sometimes particularly beneficial to be far-sighted. As Airbnb has proven with its San Francisco headquarters, where cafe spaces are inspired by cities like Cairo and Mumbai, elaborate design schemes that evoke far-flung geographic regions can be done to great effect. But operators are finding simpler ways to achieve that feel.

That’s been the experience of Kutztown University Dining Services in Pennsylvania. Kent Dahlquist, director of housing and dining services, says that when the university decided several years ago to upgrade its dining facilities, students were vocal about one particular demand: a station covering a variety of Asian cuisines. But the university decided to go even further.

On the second floor of the South Dining Hall, Kutztown transformed a grill that had been used for omelets and grilled cheese into a Mongolian flat-top. Inspired by Japanese-style teppanyaki, cooks behind the grill sizzle up meals to order. On the other side of the station, a sushi area is surrounded by low stools.

The changes have already been well-received. “There are always crazy lines at both sides of the station,” Dahlquist says.  But as renovations continue, he plans to create a seating area blocked off by Asian-style accordion dividers to carry on the theme.

Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., recently renovated its historic Emerson Dining Hall with a concept that Director of Dining Services Scott O’Rourke describes as “a cafe with a bakery concept.” To fit the impressive architecture of the building, Wheaton’s design firm partner drew inspiration from French influences, with “touches of copper, blue ceramic tile, porcelain tile ‘travertine,’ and French blue and warm yellow accents to create the feel of a Parisian bakery,” he says. ­

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Ideas and Innovation
aquaponics produce

We partnered with a student group interested in aquaponics to build a recirculating fish tank and lettuce growing operation in our Oval Dining Center. The large tanks are stocked with tilapia that live in the water and fertilize lettuce growing in the recirculating water under grow lights. We then harvest the lettuce and use it in our operations. The unit is set up in the dining room where customers can see the science in action, learn about the process and enjoy the fresh lettuce that was just picked.

Ideas and Innovation
fridge system

We installed a remote refrigeration system as part of our cafeteria renovation. The main part of the system is located on the roof and controls all our refrigerated equipment, including the walk-in freezer and coolers, beverage refrigerator, etc. The system allows us to identify problems faster, and the elimination of individual condenser units cuts down on A/C bills as well as noise.

Industry News & Opinion

Students at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor will be served student-grown produce from the campus farm at dining halls this fall, M Live reports.

The dining team received its first batch of produce from UM’s on-campus farm in June, after students received the proper USDA certification to grow, harvest and deliver food to campus dining halls. In order to figure out what produce is needed, students communicate with the dining department weekly, and Michigan Dining purchases items accordingly.

"The students are involved from seed to plate," Executive Chef Frank Turchan...

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college students eating

From Ovention.

Today’s colleges and universities know they should offer more than a large selection of breakfast cereals in the morning and chicken tenders at lunch to appeal to students. When it comes to what’s trending on campuses, here’s a look at what directors can tune into to boost engagement.

1. Expanded dining hours

Late-night options have long been a popular fixture on college campuses, but if it’s too late, students often choose to venture to off-campus retailers to satisfy their cravings. According to Technomic’s 2017 College & University Consumer Trend...

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