Say hello to the new Dalton Hall
The dining experience at Radford University has a new look thanks to the customer-oriented renovations made in Dalton Hall.
After spending the summer under construction, the dining hall opened to students and faculty at the beginning of the Fall 2013 semester. The new naturally-lit, airy and open layout has been warmly welcomed by the RU community.
"We want diners to be as comfortable as possible," said Ben Southard, resident district manager of Chartwells, the company that manages dining at RU. "We have more seating, it’s more spacious and it’s lighter and brighter thanks to the floor to ceiling windows."
According to Southard, the Dalton redesign is part of a Chartwells initiative to provide personalized, interactive and multi-faceted dining experiences for today’s college students.
The program is based on student trends, needs and feedback. Dalton now features a more customer-oriented, restaurant-style approach that focuses on flexibility and health and wellness.
The new Dalton offers several zones of accommodation for diners, including seating for single diners; large, community style table; soft seating with couches and chairs for lounging; and high-top community tables under the hall’s central awning. According to Southard, the last has been a particular success and encourages diners to get to know one another
The centerpiece of the new Dalton, however, is the natural table top made from reclaimed redwood felled about 100 years ago. Dreaming Creek, a Floyd company who partners with a company from California, cut, treated and delivered the centerpiece for the renovated dining hall. The wood for the table was taken from the top section of a giant Redwood tree that was felled about the same time Radford University was formed.
“Under close inspection of the Dalton Hall table, you will note that nothing has been trimmed off the ends and the natural 'live edge' has been left intact,” said Dreaming Creek’s Bobby Shortridge Jr.
Handcrafted wrought iron bases by Michael Haun, a metal sculptor and blacksmith from Charlotte, N.C., complete the table. Together, the table top and bases weigh in at about a half ton.
Students have been vocal in their enthusiasm for the refurbished dining space and the new, flexible food service style.
“I like that Radford and Dalton keep improving and they are keeping up with the times," said senior Jesse Dodson from Salem. “The food service has definitely changed. Now you can pick your own meal and that’s much better.”
Dodson’s appraisal has been echoed by many students. The dining hall’s focus on providing quality food items at separate stations has made meals more about student choice than a rigid menu. With rotating entrees, loaded salad bars, decadent dessert stations and more, the options for a perfect meal have greatly increased, Dodson said.
Other popular new features are the bright LED lighting, new floors and carpeted areas and the open kitchens that allow diners to see their food being prepared.
A key focus in the redesign was opening the dining hall up and providing better seating and more space. The booths which used to be a main fixture in Dalton were often crowded and hard to access, which made eating with a group a challenge.
“It always seemed harder to find a seat or a booth and now there’s more space,” said sophomore Kevin Melendez of Herndon.
Melendez also appreciated the picture windows that span the hall. The light they let in makes dining in Dalton feel more open and accessible, he said.
Radford University Dining Services program operates two dining halls, 11 retail locations, a fine dining restaurant and a full-service catering operation.
Radford University is a comprehensive public university of more than 9,900 students. RU serves the Commonwealth of Virginia and the nation through a wide range of academic, cultural, human service, and research programs. Well known for its strong faculty/student bonds, innovative use of technology in the learning environment and vibrant student life on a beautiful 191-acre American classical campus, Radford University offers students many opportunities to get involved and succeed in and out of the classroom. The university offers 69 degree programs at the undergraduate level, and 21 master's programs and three doctoral programs at the graduate level. A Division I member of the NCAA and Big South Athletic Conference, Radford participates in 19 varsity sports—11 for women and eight for men. Since 2005, the university has secured approval and funding for nearly $300 million in capital projects, including both new construction and renovation.
Learn more about Radford University at www.radford.edu.