15 Reasons We’re Hungry for the New Dining Hall

Along with a new crop of students, the upcoming fall semester will also bring to campus a renovated dining hall whose new feel comes with a side of new flavors.

When students return to campus next fall, they will find a completely renovated Skillman Dining Hall in the Cornell Campus Center. The $2.4 million project will include a top-to-bottom makeover featuring new seating, tables, flooring, and increased seating capacity.

From a new wood-burning pizza oven and dedicated food stations to faster food-production equipment and a more efficient layout, the new dining hall will bring campus together in a new and improved way at the best part of the day: chow time. Here are the 15 reasons we’re most excited about our new spot to break bread.

Photo by Scott Cook

1. It will put the “market” in “Marketplace.” Open-concept design isn’t just for HGTV. In the new layout—which adds room for 100 more Tars—several walls and barriers will be eliminated, along with one of the meeting rooms. Service areas will be spread throughout the space instead of confined to one section, giving diners more room to move around and peruse the many delectable offerings.

Photo by Scott Cook

2. There will be something for everyone. Each of the eight dedicated food stations—vegan, salad toss, deli, pizza and pasta, simple servings, international, hot entrée, and grill—will offer creative cuisine and a variety of new mouthwatering options (see reasons No. 3 to No. 10).

Photo by Scott Cook

3. Vegetarians and vegans can rejoice. The new dedicated vegan station goes way beyond veggie burgers to include savory favorites like tofu pad Thai (also gluten-free), moussaka, and eggplant parmesan.

Photo by Scott Cook

4. We’re upping the salad game. Made-to-order medleys of leafy greens at the salad-toss station will please veggie lovers and carnivores alike, with fresh daily offerings like the beloved buffalo chicken (or tofu) salad and the new Southwest salad.

5. Between bread never looked so good. At the deli, you can choose from a featured sandwich of the day like the French dip with au jus or the Cubano power wrap, or build your own custom handheld creation.

Photo by Scott Cook

6. The flavors of Tuscany are coming to the shores of Lake Virginia. It’s all about carb-loading at the pasta and pizza station, where a new brick oven will allow you to create your own wood-fired pizza masterpiece and indulge in new dishes liked baked pasta cassoulets. Tagines and rotisserie-style entrees will also be on the menu.

Photo by Zach Stovall

7. Simply the best in clean eating. In the simple-servings station, healthy and hearty options like Salvadorian chicken with cilantro rice will make you feel less guilty about picking up that extra chocolate-chip cookie on the way out.

Photo by Scott Cook

8. Worldly palettes will continue to find a home. From Cantonese delicacies like seared beef lo mein to Latin American staples like pastelón and tostones, the flavors in the international station are as abundant as they are authentic.

Photo by Scott Cook

9. Your grandmother will be proud. When it comes to comfort food, the hot-entrée station’s got you covered. Heaping plates of barbecue pulled pork, mac ’n’ cheese, buttermilk cornbread, and country fried steak with Old Bay gravy are sure to rival some of your favorite homemade recipes. And vegetarians and vegans don’t have to miss out—the lentil shepherd’s pie is every bit as good as the original.

Photo by Scott Cook

10. It’s like Fourth of July year-round. At the grill station, you’ll always find mile-high made-to-order burgers and loaded French fries. Oh, and spicy chicken wings. Are you #teamranch or #teambluecheese?

Photos by Scott Cook

11. Refills made easy. Instead of one beverage station, there will be three in the new setup, offering everything from soda and tea to juices and coffee.

Photo by Curtis Shaffer

12. Breakfast lovers can eat the most important meal of the day all day. Choose from fresh fruit bowls, oatmeal, yogurt, smoothies, and assorted baked goods, or one of the new breakfast pizza creations. Bacon, egg, and cheese pizza? Yes, please.

Photo by Zach Stovall

13. You can have dinner and a show. We’re revamping our previous showcase cooking experience where the chefs finalize your meal right in front of you with fresh spices and ingredients and an artful presentation. This will be done at many of the food stations depending on the meal du jour.

14. It’s so much easier to get seconds … and thirds … and fourths. Given last year’s shift to the all-you-can-eat model, the dining space’s new configuration—and additional staff—will prevent bottlenecks during peak times and allow for easier maneuvering from station to station.

Photo by Scott Cook

15. Fresh fare for days. Ingredients come from local farms and Rollins’ very own on-campus student-run micro-farm, which delivers fresh produce every time there’s a new crop.

Watch as executive chef Gustavo Vasconez prepares his homemade guacamole, served at both the Skillman Dining Hall and Cornell Cafe. Fun fact: For this famously fresh guac, Rollins uses approximately 9,000 pounds of avocado each semester.