At long last, refresh

At Wisconsin, the dining hall that served as the model for a Marketplace design finally gets its makeover.

By 
Paul King, Editor

Wisconsin's dining hall concepts.

Some 10 years ago, when Joie Schoonover and her dining services team at the University of Wisconsin began the thought process for the Marketplace design that currently graces four dining halls, they needed a pilot, a place where the marketplace concepts could be tested and refined. They chose Chadbourne Hall, a 580-bed residence unit that is part of Chadbourne Residential College, a living/learning center for first-year students.

As thoughts turned into design, Chadbourne was transformed into Rheta’s Market, a smallish dining center with virtually all of the concepts that would be reflected in the Marketplace design. These included Capital City Pizza Co., a deli called Delicious, Great Greens soup and salad station, Global Kitchen, a breakfast and grill area known as Fired Up and 1849, a venue for home-style comfort foods. There was also a convenience store called Flamingo Run and The Bean and Creamery coffee and ice cream bar.

Over the years, from 2007 to the present, Rheta’s was the site where recipes were developed and new equipment was tested. The vision explored at Rheta’s was brought to fruition in the fall of 2012 when the Gordon Avenue Market opened in the renovated Gordon Dining and Event Center, and Four Lakes Market was christened in the new Dejope Residence Hall. Then, in the summer of 2013, a scaled down version of the marketplace with the four most popular concepts—Global Kitchen, Que Rico, Capital City Pizza and Delicious—opened at Carson Gulley Commons.

Next month, Rheta’s finally gets its makeover, and Cathy Ness can’t wait.

“This will be our third remodel,” says Ness, the manager at Rheta’s since 2011, referring to the original work in 2007 and some tweaking that occurred the year she arrived. “This one will allow us to catch up to the rest of the dining halls.”

The remodel will serve to update the concepts students are already familiar with, she adds. For example, “Que Rico was an afterthought. It was cobbled together so that we could test the recipes for the rest of the units. But it’s become one of our most popular stations, so it will get the grand treatment.”

One thing Rheta’s won’t get, however, is more space. A better-defined traffic pattern (reducing the number of entryways from three to one, for example) will make navigating the servery a bit easier, but fitting nine concepts and a c-store/coffee bar in less than 10,000 square feet makes for tight quarters, Ness notes.

“A lot will be happening in a little space,” she says. But Rheta’s will retain some of its uniqueness even as its well-known dining concepts are upgraded to look more like their counterparts across campus. For example, the baby grand piano in the dining room will stay, and the c-store will continue to be the only one on campus that is completely student run.

And Dazzling Desserts, dining services’ tribute to the late Rheta McCutcheon, a former U of W foodservice director, will remain.

“Rheta was known for wearing lots of flashy jewelry,” Ness says, “and Dazzling Desserts was named for that trait of hers.”

The renovation will, Ness hopes, be accomplished in only 38 days, the amount of time between the end of the spring semester and the start of summer conference season June 23.

“It’s going to be a busy time,” she says. “I’m going to keep a diary of the whole transformation. It should be interesting.”

Keywords: 
design, renovation