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East Campus Dining Commons on track for fall opening

Stanford Dining expects the new East Campus Dining Commons (ECDC) to open its doors in late summer 2011, slightly ahead of its projected completion date. ECDC will serve the approximately 600 residents in Crothers and Toyon, and will be located between those two residence halls.

“We have passed several significant milestones in the project,” wrote Eric Montell, executive director of Stanford Dining, in an e-mail to the Daily. “The project, construction and operations team are keeping the opening date on target.”

Montell also said that the complex would stay within the $20.3 million budget approved by the Board of Trustees.

“Considering that the project didn’t start too long ago, it’s been amazing progress,” said Aditya Singh ’13, head dining ambassador.

Catering to students

According to Stanford Dining’s website, ECDC is “designed to accentuate both sustainable building and food programs.” It will not have a cultural focus similar to those at other dining halls—for example, FloMo’s Indian night, Wilbur’s pan-Asian cuisine or Stern’s Mexican focus.

“Generally, the way we go about doing these specialized dinners…is once the dining hall has been opened, we have a menu which is a general menu,” Singh said. “Then we try to accommodate a specialty depending on the staff and the demand that we have.”

“It’s supposed to be an award-winning complex,” said Cindy Chang ’14, dining ambassador for Stern Hall.

“There’s also a servery, a wellness room [and] late night at Stern would be shifted,” Singh said of the new dining commons. In addition, east campus residents would also have access to the complex’s lounge and study areas.

“Students who stay on Escondido Road end up studying in libraries, and sometimes you need this kind of environment,” Singh said.

He added that Dining is also “seriously debating” creating a 24-hour eatery in ECDC.

Dining’s head “cuisine team”—including its head chef and chief nutritionist—will be housed in the complex. Its core management team will not move, but Dining hopes the change will make the organization more accessible to students.

“It’s going to be, from the management point of view, one of the two pivot points of Stanford Dining on campus,” Singh said. “Right now, our head office is at Pampas Lane, near the Archery Field, which is kind of far away for students to go to.”

Fixing capacity issues

The new dining hall will ease pressure on Wilbur and Stern, each of which serves about 1,000 students per meal. By comparison, FloMo serves 350 students per meal.

“That is the one main reason why East Campus Dining Commons is being built—so it diverts the main population of Crothers, CroMem and Toyon into ECDC,” Singh said. “Because we already have Branner Dining, Manzanita Dining, Wilbur and Stern, it’ll be the fifth dining hall in the same row.”

According to Singh, an additional east campus dining commons is necessary “because so many students stay there.”

Prior to this year, Linx at Toyon served as a fifth dining hall option for Escondido Road residents, but Stanford Dining chose to close the facility last fall despite capacity issues at Stern.

“We weren’t getting enough people over there. It wasn’t turning out to be a viable business option,” Singh said. “Sometimes, we used to get like 50 students at a meal. When you’re talking about a mass business like Stanford Dining, the cost-benefit doesn’t work out.”

Since then, Linx has been used as a study space for Toyon residents; according to Montell, the space is referred to as “Toyonito.”

Montell added that Dining is making an effort to offset the strain on the current dining halls, adding additional staff and hours at Stern, Branner and Manzanita. Additionally, Manzanita is now open seven days a week and serves breakfast on weekdays.

“The dining rooms in Stern, with the additional tables and chairs, have enough capacity to accommodate 80 percent of the students living in Stern, Crothers and Crothers Memorial at one time,” Montell said. “This is identical in seating capacity to all of the other Stanford dining halls.”