Renovated dining hall combines the familiar with the new

Photo+by+Mark+Peless

Photo by Mark Peless

Commons Dining Hall is not what it used to be. According to many students (and many pizza-lovers), that is a very good thing.

Renovations to the building have been planned since February 2015, but construction was postponed until 2016 to allow time for specific design decisions. Work finally began after the 2016 graduation ceremony, leaving Knollcrest as the summer’s only open dining hall. At last, the new and improved Commons Dining Hall reopened at the end of August—just in time for QUEST.

Before the changes, circular tables littered the dining hall’s every corner. Though a few rectangular tables lined the windows, a full floor dinner could quickly fill every spot. At lunchtime, students needed to awkwardly squeeze between chairs to reach their friends.  

Now, Commons hosts nearly every type of seating imaginable — booths and cushy chairs, high-top tables and the traditional circular tables. The salad bars have been rotated ninety degrees into a horizontal position, eliminating the long lines in the middle of the room. Wood and metallic surfaces replace the old cream-and-white ones, and modern lighting creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere.

“I love how open it feels,” said sophomore Sierra Smith.

“Now there is enough seating for floor dinners with a lot of people,” sophomore Meagan Veldman added.

But the main attraction of this renovation is not the look. Nor is it the seating. Commons is a dining hall: students come for the the food. Beside a large sign labeled “Piazza” stands Commons’ tastiest update: a specialty pizza oven. The “Globe” is gone, but the space now offers fresh-baked Italian goodness — cheesy breadsticks, savory marinara sauce and (of course) crackling-crust pizza.

Sophomore Lauren Schwartz eagerly recommended this latest addition to the menu: “I just love it.”

Fans of Commons’ upstairs salad and sandwich bar, Uppercrust, need not worry: the space is largely unchanged. While a newly tiled pillar does adorn the seating area, old favorites, such as the Calvin Country, the California Ranch and the International Veggie, remain available.

Another Commons standby, the Taqueria, home of Tacos el Pastor and build-your-own nachos, has moved to the right side of the main floor. (The spot’s previous occupant, the Italian Emma and Charlie’s, has been replaced by the new Piazza section.) In the Taqueria’s old space (directly to the left of the main entrance), The Flipside Grill offers offers American foods such as barbecue ribs and fries, as well as many of the old favorites from the Globe like General Tso’s chicken.

But the updates are not without their drawbacks. Smith commented that “there is less overall seating [now].” During particularly busy times, the old seating difficulties may reappear, as some of the new seating options (like the booths) can only fit a certain number of people.

For now, Calvin students can continue to enjoy a dining hall with a more modern look — and perhaps a little more delicious food.