The great dining shake-up of 2023


Kent Campus Center is on its way to replacing Pfieffer, becoming the primary dining facility on campus.

by Kyle Werner, Feature Editor

The rumors are true: Kent Campus Center will soon become the main dining facility on campus, replacing the newly refreshed Pfieffer Dining Hall. The first steps are being taken for the transition to take place.

The Student Government Association (SGA) confirmed in the minutes from their meeting on Sept. 21 that campus dining will be moving to Kent by the 2024-2025 academic year. 

Selected students were able to give their input in a meeting on the evening of Oct. 4 with the hired architectural company, Hastings & Chivetta, that will be leading the renovation of Kent.

Vice President for Student Development and Planning, and one of the many faces involved in the operation of transforming Kent into a new dining facility, Heidi Levine, noted this is all pending the approval of the plan itself.

“One of the most important things to put out there right off the bat is that all of this is pending approval from the Board of Trustees, which has been discussing campus dining for a while now and had voted on a proposal to explore this topic and this potential,” said Levine. 

Levine also said the renovation would likely be an expansion of the current common area by SubConnect and Tyler’s out onto the current sidewalk on the east side of Kent. She also noted this would not impede on the property of Delta Delta Delta.

Ben Nielsen has been the general manager for Sodexo since this past April, leading food service operations here on campus. Nielsen is involved with this transition and noted how the expansion of Kent would not only allow more room for dining but also allow for the option to have more dining options. Nielsen also wants to implement dining options like other colleges, expanding on the current system.

“If you look at other colleges that have large dining halls, they will be like what’s called a scrambled line,” he said. “You can walk in and pay one time, and you can go to each different station, kind of like what we have now but a little bit more modernized and broken up.”

Having Kent as the main dining facility on campus would have all of the Sodexo employees in the same building. 

“For us [Sodexo], it will actually be positive because we’ll all be in one location, so we will be able to serve better,” Nielsen said. “Putting everybody in one location will definitely help, making sure everything is served correctly.”

This extreme switch between Kent and Pfieffer will undoubtedly impact the college’s food service workers, and the interim impact is what will be done during construction in Kent. 

Pfieffer, with these accommodations, will be the only dining option for the 2023-2024 academic year while Kent is under construction.

The current plan is to move current Kent venues, Tyler’s Grill and SubConnection, into Pfeiffer.

“I think we would be looking to incorporate as many elements of what we have currently and can’t as we could. In Pfeiffer, obviously, that’s going to look and feel different,” said Levine.

She noted that Millie’s would not be included in the options available in Pfeiffer and the conversation of where a coffee shop would be able to function to the extent that Millie’s does fully.  She also mentioned the same issues lie with the c-store.

These are the current plans as the transition between dining facilities occurs, lasting only until the unveiling of the new Kent dining facility.

The cost of this operation will depend on the plans drawn up by the architectural firm and the material available with current supply chain issues. 

“We know that we are talking about a project that’s in the millions of dollars. This isn’t a project in the 10s of 1000s or hundreds of 1000s,” said Levine. “So we know that, and we have advancement, fundraising specifically for this project.”

Junior Jenna Pfieffer says it would be a huge step forward for the face of dining here at Simpson.

“I think better dining would improve the student body’s overall opinion of campus,” said Pfieffer. “It would be a major step in solving one of the largest complaints on campus. Especially if the food quality of Pfeiffer improved.”

After a survey of Kent, the architectural firm will meet with the board of trustees on Oct. 14 to show the plans drawn up for the renovation. 

Hastings & Chivetta is currently finalizing a survey to be sent out to all students to get student input on what they would like to be seen in a new dining facility on campus. 

The renovation will begin in the summer of 2023, pending the board’s approval, and all campus dining will be moved to Pfieffer dining hall for the 2024-2025 academic year.