Cafe facelift

The Balfour-Hood Café is getting a makeover during winter break, reopening in January with eco-friendly menu options, a revamped serving line and a new payment option for students with meal plans.

It will be the café’s first major renovation in 10 years and the first in a series of planned upgrades to campus dining halls, to be followed by Chase Dining Hall this spring and Emerson Dining Hall the following winter.

“The café will have a great new look and will allow for greater customer flow,” Director of Dining Services John Bragel said of the changes. “The menu will feature many sustainable options, and the new salad bar is sure to be a big hit.”

Hood Café will shut down on Monday, December 15, the week after final exams, and will reopen by the first day of spring semester on January 21. The Diana Davis Spencer ’60 Cafe will be open its usual hours, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m., for faculty, staff and students who remain on campus during winter break.

One major change to Hood Café will be the relocation of the cashier’s station, which will be placed out front to provide more counter space inside and allow customers to move through more easily.

“Currently, during peak time, you’ll notice that the line gets backed up. There’s one way in and one way out, and customers get caught up waiting in line no matter what they’re buying. Hopefully by changing the layout and moving the cash register out front, it won’t be so congested,” Manager of Business Services Kimberly Lavallee said.

The café will continue to serve Starbucks coffee and tea, and the soup station will remain with new options such as artesian breads. There will also be a new salad bar, where customers can create their own salads and pay by weight. The made-to-order sandwich station will go away, but the cafe will continue to offer a selection of refrigerated beverages and food items, including premade sandwiches that can be heated up on site.

Another new feature: a hot food station with a rotating menu that will include a mix of organic and budget-friendly items.

And the café will be introducing the Lyons Swipe system, which will allow students on a meal plan to use their plans for predetermined menu options—such as a hot meal item with sides and a beverage or a soup, sandwich, side salad and beverage for lunch.

The new Hood Cafe will fit in well with renovations coming to Wheaton’s other dining spaces, though the picture won’t be complete until 2016.

“In the future, Chase is going to have a beautiful deli concept, and Emerson’s going to have a nice sandwich element, so anyone who might miss the made-to-order sandwich option at Hood Cafe will have those options in the future,” Bragel said.

The cafe seating area will get a fresh coat of paint, though furniture will remain, and planters will be installed to replace the counter blocks by the front doors.

“The Hood Cafe renovation will help revitalize the campus center, and the cafe will become more of a centerpiece for students and the Wheaton community,” Lavallee said.

Dining hours will remain the same through May, but new hours will be set when students return for fall semester 2015.

Look in November for posters set up at the cafe with more details about the renovations, such as design elements.