Lucye Rafferty/The Hoya Georgetown students dine in the new atmosphere of Darnall Dining Hall.

Darnall Dining Hall might not have panoramic views of the Potomac, but a $650,000 redesign has given the cafeteria a restaurant-style look, complete with neon lights, centralized food-service and a revamped layout.

With the new Leo J. O’Donovan, S.J., Dining Hall in mind, members of the Auxiliary Services department, the Facilities staff and the Georgetown Food Committee recognized that there would have to be changes made to Darnall to keep the facility attractive to students. Despite the size of O’Donovan, its 1,200 seat capacity cannot accommodate all students.

“I like this cafeteria better than the new one,” arie LaRiviere (COL ’05) said of the new Darnall Dining Hall. “The food is all right in front of you. You don’t have to run up and down to get what you want to eat.”

Martin Reddy, of Martin Reddy Architects in Washington, D.C., helped plan the new layout under the guidance of university project planner Chris Jordan and the Georgetown Food Committee.

The food committee, led by Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Services Margie Bryant, is comprised of students who have meal plans and would like to directly influence food selection, services and quality.

The renovations of Darnall were planned with multiple goals in mind. Due to the committee’s tight budget, the renovations were made only to the dining area, not the kitchen. The complete renovation of the cafeteria cost approximately $650,000.

Over the years, Darnall has always been perceived as a smaller version of the New South Dining Hall, Bryant said. The food committee has tried to steer away from that image, and with the new renovations, decided to completely eliminate it, “making it more boutique-like,” Bryant said.

“It’s more aesthetically pleasing,” Darnall diner Brian Carey (COL ’05) said.

In addition to the new layout and design of the facility, the dining hall will offer more varied food items. Before the opening of the O’Donovan Dining Hall, Darnall was known for its made-to-order grill station and its self-serve milkshakes. The renovated dining hall includes centralized food stations, including a make-your-own pizzas bar.

“I like the new cafeteria,” Paul Brandley (COL ’05) said. “I like the personal pan pizzas.”

Other changes were made to the general structure of the building, including one that took place last year. During the spring of 2003, the Student Primary Care Clinic expanded into what was previously Darnall dining space. The Food Committee hopes that the smaller Darnall has a cafe-like appeal

Islands were designed to hold the beverages and desserts and keep them separated from the rest of the food. The tray conveyor belt was reversed so that people creating desserts would not crowd people dumping out their dirty plates and silverware. Walls were moved to change the format of the building and individual tables were even set up along the window for students dining alone.

The dining room is designated solely for seating, with all of the food service moved into the main service room.

In general, diners seemed pleased and excited about the new design. But, like all new endeavors, the revamped Darnall has its share of critics.

“I like it,” Monica Belsito (COL ’05) said. “But this neon stuff . this is a little over the top.”

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