Kent dining hall to close, mixed emotions from students and staff
Kent Dining Hall will serve its last meal for two years on May 22. It will reopen for Spring 2017 while Russell Dining Hall is renovated before closing its doors for good.
Kent’s closing will make room for the university’s most recent large-scale project—the Academy Street Dining and Residence Complex (ASDR).
According to statistics provided by Residence Life and Housing, ASDR will dwarf Kent in capability and size. With 1,180 seats, the university’s newest dining location will be about twice the size of Pencader and expects to serve about 6,000 meals a day. Its “Fresh Food Concept” promises fresh ingredients in made-to-order meals, each cooked right before the students.
Still, closing Kent raises emotions for some across campus, regardless of ASDR’s potential.
Sophomore Will Kebbe said Kent is easily his favorite dining hall, and he will miss everything from its food options all the way to the chandeliers, he said.
“It’s an intimate setting,” Kebbe said. “You can have real conversations with people.”
The high quantity of students in the other dining halls made Kent’s familiarity stand out for many students.
Nicolette Kothe, a sophomore and Russell D resident assistant, shared similar praises for Kent Dining Hall.
“It’s the only dining hall that you can go to alone and not look lonely,” Kothe said.
Due to Kent’s continuous schedule, it served as an in-between-class spot for many students—to both eat and study.
According to Director of Dining Operations Robin Moore, ASDR’s “Fresh Food Concept” site will continue Kent’s tradition of all-day dining services.
In addition to the students, staff too said they will miss their days at Kent Dining Hall. A regular friendly face to Kent is Diana Johnson, a 2-year staff member.
“I love hearing how the students are doing,” Johnson, who regularly swipes student in, accompanied with a “hello, how are you?”
Due to the slow-traffic nature of Kent, Johnson was able to get to know students on a personal level. She enjoys talking with them about their class work and what they are involved in on campus.
Johnson––like the other Kent Dining employees––has yet to receive her job assignment for the fall semester.
Although many are sad to see Kent go, some are apathetic and even pleased, to see the school’s oldest dining hall replaced.
Deshawn Tyler, full-time supervisor of Kent Dining Hall, said the only thing he will really miss is its low number of student diners. His last assignment, Pencader, was his favorite in his four years with UD Dining.
Tyler looks forward to working with the new equipment in ASDR, but said he does not have a preference for his next assignment.
Some students, like Abena Dapaah, are glad to see the university do away with its older buildings, including the 90-year old dining hall. She said she feels the food in Kent is rarely fresh and thinks the old architecture is “tacky.” She, like Taylor, is excited for what ASDR has in store for on-campus dining.
“One thing I will admit [about Kent] is the radio was always on point,” Dapaah said with a laugh.
Kent Dining Hall first opened in 1925, making it the university’s oldest standing dining hall. It was built to serve the high influx of students caused by the merger of Delaware College with the Women’s College. Like many of the buildings on campus, the construction of Kent Dining Hall was funded largely by donations from the du Pont family, specifically Pierre du Pont.
Vice President of Facilities Alan Brangman will chair the “space committee,” which will decide the next step for Kent Dining Hall once it closes its doors. Concrete plans have yet to be solidified—however, two of the forerunning ideas are a student life space or a dinner reception hall.