By Ciara Cornelia and Makayla Kanavy
Special to NFP
Niagara University has recently begun work on an $8 million expansion and renovation of Clet Dining Hall, the main dining hall for students on campus.
Construction began April 11. Construction crews have begun clearing the land where the expansion will take place. NU officials plan on having a groundbreaking ceremony sometime in the spring. There is no word yet on the exact time the construction will finish, but it is anticipated crews will work through the summer and that Clet will reopen in the fall.
"We are continuously seeking to improve the student experience at Niagara University, while also meeting an increasing demand for on-campus event and dining facilities," said the Rev. James J. Maher, C.M., NU president.
New Seating Options
After the expansion and renovation, the dining hall will be 20,000 square feet with several updates to the space. There will be plenty of seating options, including banquette/booth seating, which is what the dining currently has, on top of new options such as high-top tables, stool seating, lounge-style seating and a mix of round, rectangular and square tables with chairs. The new seating is expected to seat 230 people, while also including a space for 250 that has a projector and presentation screen.
"It will provide more seating, which is helpful to the students, because not all people can find a good place to sit, or enough seats," said Conor Gollegly, a freshman history major.
An artist's rendering of the inside expansion at Clet Hall. (Niagara University image)
In addition to having new seating inside, there will be outdoor patio seating with a green area included. The area will be decorated with flowers and plants native to Niagara Falls, which will be taken care of through a rain barrel that is also included in the area. This entire space will be 875 square feet.
"I feel like the outside seating might not be used that much, seeing as it was only really warm two months out of the school year. But all the new indoor seating will be great, because it will give students so much more space," said Lauren Austin, a freshman commuter.
Back in January, the Niagara University students voted on how they wanted the dining hall to look based on three different options.
"This project has truly been a collaborative effort, involving students, employees and our partners at Metz Culinary Management. We are also grateful to Sen. Rob Ortt and Assemblyman John Ceretto for their support," Maher said.
New Food Stations, Preparation Areas
The dining hall will be under the same management, Metz Culinary Management. The food will primarily be the same, but there are plans for new food preparation and serving areas.
Students who were interviewed seemed to think the expansion had a lot to do with expanding the food options. It is unclear on what these new stations and options might be, as the dining hall is under the same management.
"I think the expansion will be positive, because of the new stations. There will be more of a variety to chose from," said Marielle Gaglione, a freshman nursing student.
Lasting Effects of Expansion
An artist's rendering of the Clet Hall outdoor expansion plan. (Niagara University image)
The investment in the dining hall will also help the university save money by being more energy-efficient. There will be new units on the rooftop, new kitchen equipment and a dishwashing machine that will all help to save money on utilities.
Another reason for the expansion of Clet Dining Hall is that there is a need for banquet facilities. Right now, most banquets are held in St. Vincent's Hall, on the fourth floor. The expansion would allow banquets to be held in Clet, as well, with theater seating for 250 people, as well as a projector and screen.
"The new and improved Clet Dining Commons will provide our students and university community with a state-of-the-art facility that aligns with our enduring pledge to maximize our commitment to excellence and showcase the beauty of our campus surroundings," Maher said.
Overall, students seemed to be pleased with the plans for the expansion and renovation. Hopefully, the new dining hall will live up to student expectations, and they'll have something to look forward to during the summer.
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