New cafeteria brings fresh look
Downtown comes uptown
By Michelle Osmond
Artist Perry Lansing putting the finishing touches on the engineering cafeteria. (Photo by Chris Hammond)
Last summer, while students were working their summer jobs, some big changes were happening in the heart of the engineering building. Contractors, artists and community groups were transforming the engineering cafeteria and bringing downtown uptown. The cafeteria has now been transformed into a mini George Street complete with stone walls, 3D painted scenes of downtown streets and a “MUN Lane” sign.
The project was a collaborative effort between Housing, Food and Conference Services at Memorial; Chartwells Inc.; de Signum design, the company which worked on the St. Clare’s Hospital and the Health Sciences cafeterias; and the Brother T. I. Murphy Centre. When Housing, Food and Conference Services entered into a contract with Chartwells three years ago, Chartwells made a financial commitment to renovate both the dining hall and the engineering cafeteria.
Housing, Food and Conference Services Director Christine Burke says these areas were long overdue for a change from the ’60s, ’70s look. Ms. Burke says the George Street theme was chosen because it is such an integral part of living in St. John’s and it is famous all over Atlantic Canada as a place where people go to relax and have fun.
The cafeteria has always been a gathering place for the Faculties of Engineering and Business and the Department of Earth Sciences because of its central location and its size but part of their motivation, adds Ms. Burke, was to create a destination for people all across campus.
“Although we are competing with the University Centre, the engineering cafeteria is the only full service cafeteria on campus. We’re now hoping to draw individuals and groups from south campus.”
The props for the new cafeteria, which look more like sets for a theatre, were built in Ontario and put on a flatbed truck. Three workers travelled with the sets to St. John’s and recreated them here. Artist and carpenter Perry Lansing has been to Newfoundland several times and says it’s one of his favourite places to visit so it was fun for him to recreate such a lively section of the city. Some of the artwork was also done through a program with Human Resources and Development Canada and the Murphy Centre for young adults interested in becoming artists. That group completed scenes of downtown houses and the famous Signal Hill on the walls of the main seating area.
The menu has also changed and now includes a vegetarian line, a Sugar Shack, a hot dog cart, a panini grill, and an “On the Go” healthy menu. In fact, the menu is 50 per cent larger and although the renovations cost $175,000 to complete, prices did not go up for students to cover any of those costs.
Nicole Lynch is an engineering student and president of Student Society ‘B’.
“The new look of the engineering cafeteria is very inviting to students and creates a comfortable atmosphere for them to eat and study. We really appreciate the larger selection of food including more healthy choices.” Ms. Lynch says feedback she’s received from other students has been excellent. Some think the new cafeteria is a cosier, and more welcoming. “They also seem to like the variety of themes and the new variety of food offered, especially the healthy choices and, of course, the candy.”