Dining operations offers more variety

Jessica Johnson

UW Oshkosh is likely to implement changes to the Reeve Union Marketplace, renovations to Blackhawk Commons and new vending machine operations at Polk Library before the end of the academic year. Assistant Director for Dining Services Marty Strand said the idea to renovate Blackhawk Commons came from surveys given to students to find out what they wanted in terms of dining operations on campus. Strand said two common themes within the survey results were about putting Blackhawk back into the top of the line showcase it once was and renovating the worn-out building. “It needs to be brought up to date because we feed all of our freshmen here at Blackhawk, and all the incoming students and their parents are eating lunch here, so we could be making a better impression than we currently are,” Strand said. According to Strand, one of the big ideas for Blackhawk is dividing the seating area into three different sections to make it easier for students to find friends. He said the first Titan room would be full of school spirit and everything Titan. “The colors in the area will be our school’s colors, better furniture and tables, graphics on the walls so it isn’t plain paint anymore, add in more booths and change to more modern lighting,” Strand said. Strand said the second area will have an art feel to it where student artwork would be displayed on the walls. This area will also have more booths and modern lighting. According to Strand, the third area will provide a comfortable living room atmosphere for students. This room could also include historical pieces of artwork or wood from the Oshkosh area. Stand said the dining operations services are waiting for budgets to be approved before they move forward with the Blackhawk renovations. “Once our budgets are approved for our regular operations, then we can go back and see how we can stage putting these ideas in real play,” Strand said. “We are hoping to start doing that this academic year.” Zachary Dunton, an Oshkosh Student Association food committee student representative, said the decision for the renovations is ultimately up to the UWO administration, but they base their decisions off of student input. “The director and assistant director of University Dining proposed the renovations to the Food Committee, OSA, [Reeve Advisory Council] and [United Students in Resident Halls],” Dunton said. “Each body discussed the merits of the renovations and the renovation received overwhelming support.” Strand said Holy Habañeros may come to Reeve Union Marketplace by spring semester 2016. According to Strand, Holy Habañeros is somewhat similar to Titan Taco with the exception that it will be using different products. “Instead of a diced product, we will use grilled beef or grilled chicken, which will be of better quality and taste for students,” Strand said. “The price point is a little bit different. It’s going to be a little higher, but we will still keep budget in mind so you can get a value meal for a decent price.” Strand said if everything goes according to plan, Holy Habañeros will take the place of Wings and Strings and Titan Taco. Wings and Strings will then move to the Pizza Hut area where the heating shelves will hold pizza, pasta, breadsticks and wings. Titan Taco will likely move to Scotty’s and take the place of Pizza Hut. According to Strand, implementing these changes depends on how the budget is approved, but he is hoping for second semester. “I would say that we are progressing, and although the target was second semester, it’s just not a solid target,” Strand said. “We are trying very hard to get it in by that time, but it just might not make it. There is a fair amount of work that still has to be done.” Dunton said the changes to Reeve Marketplace and Blackhawk are motivated to address student desires. “The renovations will add variety to Scotty’s and Reeve Marketplace, which many students have been asking for. The renovation of Blackhawk will create a better atmosphere and hopefully assist with admissions as well,” Dunton said. Strand said the implementation of a new vending machine operation at Polk Library should happen by second semester, the target date being the last week of January 2016. “We are going to replace the Mi Taza that is currently there with a little higher-end vending machines because it really wasn’t serving students the way it should,” Strand said. “Students are there either really early or really late, so we need something that would help them out.” According to Strand, the new vending machines will include a new Voce vending machine, which is an espresso machine, a cold food machine, a snack machine, a water and juice machine and possibly a Starbucks machine that will include cold Frappuccinos and double shots. “It will be open 24 hours a day for anyone to use in the library, and customers can use credit cards and Apple Pay if they choose to do so,” Strand said. “This will be great addition to the library. We are very excited.” UWO junior Emily Peterson said she is very excited for the new vending machines because it will allow her to grab something to snack on whenever she wants. “I am usually at the library pretty late, and there isn’t anything open at that time to eat or drink, so the fact that there will be vending machines available 24/7 makes me really happy,” Peterson said.