Turner Place, Virginia Tech University, Blacksburg, Va.

Eight concepts encourage community at Virginia Tech.

In August, Virginia Tech University Dining Services opened Turner Place at Lavery Hall, a state-of-the-art dining facility with eight distinctive restaurant-style concepts and a community room that serves the Virginia Tech Corps of Cadets. Ted Faulkner, director of dining services, says the facility was designed to encourage community building on campus. Of the eight units, five are new self-branded concepts developed for the building. Faulkner walked FSD through the different concepts his department developed for the location.

Faulkner says the aim in designing the facility was tied to the fact that the location is the first dining hall on the academic side of campus. Therefore, the team wanted to design a facility that would encourage high levels of use, not only by students but also the rest of the university community.

"For years our initiative was to have restaurant-quality food and provide a restaurant experience, so in this design we created destinations where we have these segemented restaurants under one roof," Faulkner says. "If you go to our Atomic Pizzeria, you are actually going through a threshold. Once you are in that area of the dining center you would feel like you are in an independent pizzeria." 

For Atomic Pizza, the department wanted to create a space that had an industrial/urban look. As far as the menu offerings, the students told the team that they loved hand-tossed, large-sliced pizza, but they also liked the portability of personal pizzas.

"We also created casserole-style dishes like baked zita, lasagna and stuffed manicotti where we bake them in these single-use dishes and the students can get a portable entrée," Faulkner says. "We put in a large wood-fired pizza oven to give [the space] that flavor and aroma in the location. We do breadsticks and the large pizzas in that oven as well as calzones. We made the pizza unique by using a sourdough crust, which is different from the rest of campus. We make our sauce fresh. One of the signature pies is a sun-dried tomato, balsamic, fig pizza that is hugely popular." 

At the 1872 Fire Grill there are two distinct areas. In one area, the location servies classic Southern-style fare, and the other side is a traditional grill with a carvery. There is also a rotisserie for whole chickens. The centerpiece of the grill area is a four-foot, wood-fired chargrill.  

In the upscale grill area, the location's chefs prepare items like flat-iron steaks, fresh seafood catches, grilled asparagus, sweet potatoes, baked potatoes and other different vegetable sides, says Faulkner. 

The Southern portion of the grill offers traditional comfort food items such as fried chicken, chicken and dumplings and smoked turkey.

Exterior of 1872 Fire Grill.

Origami is the facility's sushi bar and Japanese steakhouse. The location is decorated with oragami artwork. "It’s a very stunning look and feel in there, Faulkner says. "Each one our restaurants is zoned separately for music so it really does feel like going into a different restaurants."

The location has four teppanyaki grills that sit 10 people.

"We offer a choice of proteins but all components come as a full meal," Faulkner says. "You start with soup and then the chef will put on the show of doing the vegetables, rice and proteins in front of you. Then we have a sushi bar where chefs roll sushi to order or you can get it to go."

Soup Garden offers hand-tossed salads, which, Faulkner says, is a little different from what the department does at other locations on campus. Here, students can pick their lettuce blend and all their components. The station also offers housemade bread to go with the salads and three types of soups.

At the Dolci et Caffé, there are four stations in one. There is a bakery with baristas that serve Peet’s Coffee and baked goods, which are made onsite. Moving further down the station there is a gelato station, where the team is making its own gelato onsite. Then there is  a creperie, and on the back side there is an open market grab-and-go display case that has premade salads, sandwiches, parfaits, sushi and all kinds of other grab-and-go items.

A variety of seating options encourage students and other customers to gather in the space.


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