After a series of delays and setbacks, Oklahoma Christian University broke ground on a new cafeteria facility Oct. 12.
The new cafeteria will feature new options for food such as a Pasta Toss, an Italian pasta station and Chopstick Express, an Asian cuisine station.
“The [cafeteria] we’ve had, we have used it now for over four decades,” President John DeSteiguer said. “Now, it’s time for us to have a new dining room. It’s going to be what we hoped for, and it’s not that far away. It’s going to be a thrill next academic school year when this is now a part of our campus and a really important part of our campus.”
The ground-breaking ceremony featured several people involved with the renovation, including contractors Mike Hancock and Matt Thomas, architect Ryan Eshelman, developer Larry Wallace, UDining regional manager Kurt Hermanson, DeSteiguer, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mark Brewer, Chief Analytics Officer Bill Goad, Campus Operations Officer John Hermes and the SGA President Tyler Clark.
Chairman of the Board’s resources committee Alfred Branch was set to attend the event, but the severity of Hurricane Michael canceled his travel arrangements.
According to DeSteiguer, the university is setting out to create a place “where you’re going to want to spend time with your friends.”
“I’m excited to have a caf that is nicer quality and encourages better community,” junior Justin McLeckie said. “Hopefully, there is better food quality. I know there’ve been some delays, so I’m excited they’re finally getting this show on the road.”
The new cafeteria is funded by donors who contributed to the project since students voted for the remodel in December 2014. After years of waiting, Hermanson said he is excited to move forward with the renovation and become “a culinary showcase in the campus dining operations all around the country.”
“This new building and serving will allow us to expand and improve on what we can offer the OC community,” Hermanson. “We can’t wait for [students] to see the collective dream we have had, and although the old caf has served us well for 20 years, it’s time to move forward.”
Senior Emily Rowland said she feels the new cafeteria and dining room will boost morale around campus.
“The caf is a great place for fellowship as it is right now, but next year when we get better food and a nicer dining room, it will really become a great place to hang out,” Rowland said. “I feel as well that it will help incoming freshman with their decision when choosing Oklahoma Christian. Once we have a state-of-the-art caf, we will really be set apart from other universities.”
According to Goad, contractors have given the university a 12-month construction timeline from the official groundbreaking, meaning students should tentatively expect the new cafeteria to open by the start of the Spring 2020 semester.