After months of construction and minor delays, the Skyline Dining Room reopened last Saturday, Oct. 20, with special programming, put on by the Student Programming Board, featuring comedian Matt Baker.
The renovation of the Skyline Room, which cost more than $250,000, is part of a bigger initiative to improve campus dining. This initiative began three years ago and continued with the renovation of Mabee Dining Hall and the addition of Einstein Bros Bagels and Provisions On Demand. The last major project to be completed will be the renovation of the Commons, including a new cafe offering healthy and sustainable food options.
The changes to the Skyline Room began in the Fall of 2011. After a review of campus dining options, Aramark concluded that the Skyline was the “best space on campus” and that more should be done with it.
A committee of faculty, staff and students was then created. The committee’s primary goal was to make the area less institutional and more attractive to students. Breda Construction Inc., a company already engaged in several projects around campus, was hired to make the renovations.
In addition to the renovations, administrators would like to see more student programming included on the weekends in order to attract students. Potential programming includes: jazz nights, dinner and a movie, karaoke, open mic nights and major meals.
Because the Tiger’s Den failed to meet expectations, the beer and wine license will move up to the Skyline Room. Administrators are discussing the possibility of a weekly “Beer Tuesday” event for faculty members. Departments will be able to rent the Skyline Room at night for events in the hopes that it will be a gathering place for faculty to discuss interdisciplinary work. Business affiliates will also be able to rent the space.
Despite all the renovations, the Skyline Room is not entirely complete.
According to David Tuttle, associate vice president of student affairs and dean of students, there are still “little touches” to be added, such as television sets, plants, pictures and the replacement of fluorescent lighting to “warm up the space.” After additional funding, a movable stage will also be added to the room.
Overall, Tuttle is excited about the new changes, saying, “the view is great and the atmosphere is really what we’re looking for.”
The new menu has an emphasis on a la carte options. Aside from the $10 buffet line, the menu options range from a $6 classic flatbread sandwich to a $22 16 oz steak meal.
The room will be open 10 hours a week, offering student access for lunch from 11:30-1:30 p.m. Students will also be able to make reservations on T-Space to have catered events.
Tuttle believes the renovations are a step in the right direction for campus dining.
“The Skyline Room is clearly nicer than before — no one can say otherwise. But there are still improvements to be made,” Tuttle said.
Students are already noticing the changes.
Sophomore Jamie Banks attended the grand opening on Saturday and commented that the restaurant “looks way better than it did last year.”
For the grand opening of the renovated space, it was Tuttle who suggested that SPB sync their next event with the opening.
The suggestion met with a warm reception.
While preparing for his performance, Matt Baker shared stories from his experiences as a traveling comedian and stuntman. According to Baker, after learning that Sarah Palin would be John McCain’s running mate in the election four years ago, he exclaimed in disbelief to the people around, “Oh my God. I’ve kissed that woman.” As it turns out, Baker ended up calling her on stage during one of his shows and kissing her as part of his act. He assured the audience that it was “all in good fun, of course.”