Artist rendering

Thousands of Sacramento State students have chowed down at the Dining Commons since it opened 42 years ago in the heart of the residence halls “neighborhood.” The servery area, where students order and pick up their food, hasn’t changed in all that time.

Until now.

A $6 million renovation, expected to be completed in early August, will transform the servery into a larger, hipper dining scene.

“As it is now, the servery doesn’t allow for platform dining or ‘eatertainment,’ ” says Steven Davis, director of dining services for University Enterprises Inc. (UEI), which operates the Dining Commons. “We’re getting away from the traditional cafeteria-style, self-service operation to having the students order at themed stations, where they’ll see the cooking happen in front of them.”

The new, staffed mini-kitchens will offer a variety of made-to-order items, including Asian foods (with a wok and a Mongolian flattop), vegetarian selections, salads, comfort food, desserts, deli items, and breakfast foods, including do-it-yourself waffles. A gas-fired pizza oven will deliver a fresh-baked pie in just three minutes.

The remodel will expand the servery’s size to about 6,000 square feet and will include the spaces now occupied by a private dining room and two atriums. The Dining Commons is getting a new entrance and exit, along with new plumbing, boilers, electrical panels, air handlers, exhaust hoods, wall finishes, countertops, lighting, flooring, and a fire sprinkler system.

The renovation’s cost is being shared by UEI and Sacramento State's Housing and Residential Life.

“The servery will be more energy-efficient and safer, and provide more food options for students,” Davis says. “It’ll be more modern and will look nicer. The new finishes are fantastic.”

While the servery is under construction, UEI will continue to offer most of its current menu at the Dining Commons, along with adding more food options in the American River Courtyard’s Courtyard Market and bringing food trucks to campus two days a week. Three Riverfront Center restaurants and Epicure, at the University Union, will stay open later in the evening to accommodate students.

The Dining Commons is the primary eatery for students living in the residence halls and serves approximately 1,600 all-you-want-to-eat meals each day. That number will increase in August 2017, when 416 students will move into the residence hall currently under construction.

“The modernization of the serving area, along with the new platform-dining experience, will increase our ability to service the needs of students in the new residence hall and for any future housing expansion,” says Jim Reinhart, UEI’s executive director.

And although the Dining Commons is dedicated to feeding Sacramento State’s resident students, it’s open to the entire campus community, with lunch for $11.55 and dinner for $14.98. – Dixie Reid