Centre Pointe to reclaim Fredonian identity and move into the 21st century
When students get back to campus this upcoming fall semester and work up an appetite after setting up their dorms and apartments, they’ll likely flock to the Williams Center for a bite. What they’ll find at the food court, though, will be a brand new, sleek and modernized dining facility.
This summer, the Faculty Student Association (FSA) is launching a complete overhaul and renovation of the current Centre Pointe dining facility.
FSA Executive Director Darin Schulz said the last time that space had undergone a renovation of this scale was in 2008. With this latest renovation coming in the summer, Schulz said, “It was a little earlier than we wanted to renovate that space. However, it was a design that, at the time, wasn’t really timeless.”
With the volume of people and the number of transactions running through Centre Pointe daily, Schulz said an overhaul needed to happen.
“We want to improve what we’re doing,” Schulz said, “And hopefully make the customer experience better.”
According to Schulz, business in Centre Pointe will end earlier than usual for the semester, with the last day of operation being May 10. Immediately after that, crews will begin emptying out the facility of equipment and furniture so demolition can begin on May 13.
The roughly three-month construction process with LaBella Associates PC architecture and engineering company will include a complete gut of the interior finishes and a replacement of the current color scheme with more “Fredonia-like” colors. Schulz said they’ll be adding more soft seating and an electric fireplace to create a hang-out location for students.
“One of the biggest things we want to help improve is community on campus,” said Schulz.
The hope is that ultimately this new space will serve as a functional and comfortable meeting space for clubs, groups or study sessions.
With this facelift, Centre Pointe will adopt a new name. Or rather, revive an old one. “Willie C’s,” as it will be called, comes from what Fredonia students have always called the food court amongst themselves and its former name before the 2008 renovation. Schulz said the reason the name changed to Centre Pointe in 2008 was because the location is the physical center point of campus.
Now though, “We need to go back to our roots,” said Schulz, “It was called ‘Willie C’s,’ it’s in the Williams Center, it should be Willie C’s.”
The biggest conceptual change will be coming to the food service process, however.
“We’re going to be looking at totally flipping the line,” said Schulz, “So instead of waiting for what you want then going to pay, it’s going to be completely flipped to where it’s all going to be kiosk pre-ordering.” It follows many of the modernizations of other quick-service restaurants. The customer will place their order on a kiosk, pay through the kiosk, then grab their order at a pick-up location.
With customers selecting their payment method this way, Schulz admitted, “That is going to be the biggest challenge in keeping this quick and efficient.”
FSA will be creating training videos, as well as talking with incoming students during orientation this summer about how to operate the kiosk and go about the payment process.
Furthermore, FSA is adding more food service equipment to better prepare and hold food in the facility. All with the goal of presenting the food, “Hotter, fresher, and quicker,” said Schulz.
Schulz said that of the campus community that knows about the renovation plan so far, the response has been very positive.
“To be able to bring technology and to be able to bring a space that’s more inviting to be in, the feedback has been very, very positive.”
The two primary goals of this project for Schulz and the FSA are bringing the dining experience and process into the 21st century, as well as getting back to what Fredonia is.
“It needed both,” said Schulz.
FSA is planning “soft openings” for the new Willie C’s when RAs and other students get back to campus early, as well as during some summer orientations. The Friday before classes will be the first day of “business as usual,” according to Schulz.
Concept art of the new space will be posted in the display cases on the first floor of the Williams Center throughout the renovation process so prospective students and the campus community can know what to expect with the opening of Willie C’s in August.
“I’m really excited,” Schulz said, “I love Centre Pointe, even though it’s in the state that it’s in I still love it because it has so much variety. I’m excited to see how we can hopefully get more community down in that space and make it more friendly.”