Jan. 25, 2012
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Weisenfluh Hall reopening draws interest, praise
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. – Walk into the renovated Weisenfluh Hall and you immediately sense a restaurant atmosphere. Neon signs trumpet a Mediterranean menu that includes flatbread sandwiches, gyro lamb, roasted red pepper cream soup, apricot rice salad, spinach artichoke dip, tasting plates of hummus and zucchini pancakes. Move to your left and you see rows of desserts such as baklava, blueberry loaf and Lebanese namoura cakes.
And you’re not even in the main section of the dining hall yet.
Weisenfluh Hall reopened Monday following a $3 million renovation that converted it from a typical college cafeteria to an upscale retail-dining center offering healthier, gourmet meals and a more enjoyable dining experience. The “Fluh” received a new entrance, exterior trim and sign, furniture and a totally reconfigured interior.
The all-new menu features Mediterranean and international cuisine, served from four food stations called Elia, The Met, Umami and Horizons. The Elia occupies the front area of the dining hall and is complemented by a coffee-bar lounge.
Forget about the grilled cheese sandwiches, chicken fingers and “mystery meat” of yesteryear. Patrons order cooked-to-order signature burgers, ancho pork, red curry chicken, marinated vegetable skewers, Thai peanut shrimp or a signature burrito. The Umami station dishes sushi and other Asian delicacies. There are smoothies, hot and cold drinks, parfaits, breakfast sandwiches and mixed green salads – all of it available to go.
Students who were there Monday for the first lunch said they were blown away.
“The facility is really nice – very up to date and modern looking,” said David Govan, a safety management major from Saxonburg, who ordered a balsamic mushroom swiss burger and declared it a “very good burger. I think it is important for the University to update facilities such as this where students spend a lot of their time, because students like to feel comfortable in their surroundings. I like right when you walk in, it is a nice lounge atmosphere where you can get a coffee and relax or study.”
Jeff MacTaggart, resident director of dining services for SRU campus vendor AVI Fresh, said the Weisenfluh fare caters to traditional, non-traditional, commuter students and employees.
“One of the important points was we wanted to tailor this to adult students, as well as commuters, faculty and staff,” he said. “There are a lot of adult students on campus; there are a lot of commuters. They don’t have a lot of time. They’re here for class and class only, and they like to have a place to come in and relax and get a bite to eat.”
Seemingly routine lunch staples come with many choices; a burger is not just a burger. The Met food station offers the choice of house-made angus, black bean, bison or turkey meat. Diners order a “west coast,” “balsamic mushroom” or “pear and bacon burger,” which includes thick-sliced bacon, caramelized pears, bleu cheese crumbles and reduced fat maple mayonnaise.
MacTaggart said SRU students decided on the concept for the renovation several years ago and didn’t want a duplication of the usual pizza and hoagie college food.
The exterior grounds include a patio area where tables with umbrellas will be set up in warmer weather. The heating and air conditioning systems and interior decorations were updated. MacTaggart said the dining hall is more suited for meetings and banquets, including events involving outside groups, such as a marshal arts competition that SRU will host in April.
Karrisa Caylor, a communication major from Harrisburg, ate lunch at “The Fluh” Tuesday. “The renovations to Weisenfluh look amazing, and the atmosphere is great,” she said. “I ate at Horizons and had the Louisiana creole.”
She said Weisenfluh is a good place to go if you seek food of a higher quality. “It is cuisine that you cannot get anywhere else around Slippery Rock or even in Butler and Grove City,” she said. “Slippery Rock University now has a wide variety of foods available to offer the eclectic cravings of many students.”
Nicole Altiere, a dance major from Levittown, ordered a breakfast sandwich and stir-fry. “I think the new ‘Fluh’ looks very nice and modern,” she said. “Stuff like this matters to the students because students like to have a place to go to in between class and on their down time to hangout and chill.”
The coffee bar area at the Elia makes chilling out easy. It offers cappuccino, café mocha, gourmet coffee, iced white chocolate mocha and nine flavors of smoothies. There are also four enhanced smoothies such as strawberry and honey and blueberry, pomegranate and mint.
Chris Heitzer, a safety management major from Saxonburg, said, “It was amazing the changes that they made to the facility. I will, however, miss the buffet at the old Fluh. Everyone I talked to today was excited to go see the new building. My favorite aspect is the variety of choices that are available.”
The dining hall offers fresh produce as well as vegetarian and specialty options for those who are glucose and lactose intolerant. The Weisenfluh remodeling follows a similar upgrade to Boozel Dining Hall two years ago. Boozel offers food courts, community seating and made-to-order entrees of many varieties.
Weisenfluh accepts Rock Dollars, Flex, credit and cash. The Met, Umami, and Horizons are open from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday-Friday. The Elia is open 7:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Friday, noon–5 p.m. Saturdays and noon-7 p.m. Sundays.