South Dining Commons grand opening brings life to University Central District | News

Just in time for the fall semester, the University’s newest dining hall, South Dining Commons, is now open for business – and it fed a crowd of people to prove it.

Wednesday’s ribbon cutting ceremony drew a crowd of nearly 100 people, was hosted by the Kansas Union on Wednesday afternoon. Conjoined with the newly-built Cora Downs Residence Hall, the building is located at the intersection of 18th and Naismith and will be open to all students, primarily serving those at Cora Downs and Oliver.


South Dining Commons

Each different section of the South Dining Commons prepares and shows off upcoming menu items for the Fall semester.

The ceremony served as a grand opening for the facility, giving those in attendance a behind-the-scenes tour.

“We are now honored with a state-of-the-art dining facility that has 12 distinct food platforms, many featuring food cooked right in front of you by our talented chefs,” said KU Dining Director Mark Petrino, one of four ribbon cutters.

The 456 seat, 22,000 square-foot dining hall is, as Assistant Director for Residential Dining Jim Schilling described, a “fresh take” on campus dining.

“It’s a departure from how we’ve typically done things in the past where you would have the food court and then the dining hall,” Schilling said before the ceremony. “By having everything in one room it engages people a little more”

The spacious new dining facility’s completion is the latest in the University’s Central District. It’s made up of several different food “stations” offering a wide vary of options for students.

These include stations like “KYou” which offers food free of basic allergens, international-inspired “World” which will occasionally feature guest chefs from Lawrence restaurants, a Chipotle-style burrito stop called “Tex-Mex” and several others.

“One of the things that we find is really more popular now with our resident customers is the ability to not only see us making the food,” Schilling said. “But to be able to customize things the way they want them.”

More than providing meals, South Dining Commons also includes a small grocery store called “South Side” as well as a commissary that, according to Schilling, will provide fresh food to all KU Dining facilities.

“This [commissary] makes it more efficient and better controlled as well as a consistency of quality of products since it’s all out of one place,” Schilling said.

With students set to move in to Cora Downs Residence Hall as early as Aug. 13, KU Memorial Union Corporation Board President Harneet Sanghera said during the ceremony that she hopes the dining hall will soon provide a space for memories — as well as good food.

“I have no doubt,” Sanghera said, “that in two weeks time there will be new Jayhawks and returning Jayhawks laughing, creating memories and of course dining on the wonderful food here.”