University Centre cafeteria closed for construction

Campus News

Students need to find somewhere else to eat for the time being, as the University Centre cafeteria is currently closed for renovations. The $7 million project will be paid for by UVic Food Services. The new facility, to be called Mystic Market, will open in Fall of 2014. Until then, Food Services is offering various breakfast options at alternative locations.

A new dining area

Plans for the University Centre renovations first appeared in the 2011-12 Five Year Capital Plan presented by the university. In the plan, it stated that renovations would begin in August of 2012. Renovations instead began earlier this month. According to Sarah Dusterbeck, the marketing and communications coordinator for Food Services, the planning and design process of such a large project took longer than they had anticipated.

The renovation plan is to expand the food service space into the area vacated by the Maltwood Gallery, increasing the current space by 250 square metres. When it is complete, the new Mystic Market will be a total of 1 375 square metres. So far, the university is on track for its $7-million budget.

“The centre renovation will modernize the existing space, shifting from an older cafeteria style model to a more ‘market-style’ concept where food is cooked on demand, freshly prepared before the customer,” said Dusterbeck in an email. “In terms of layout and design, the renovation project will see the dining facility transformed from a crowded, cafeteria-style facility into an attractive new space with improved traffic flow and a more open, comfortable, and contemporary seating area.”

Alternative places to eat during renovations

During the renovation process, the university has set up what it calls a “Construction Café”, which is open from 8 a.m. until 3 p.m. and offers sandwiches, pastries, fresh fruit, and other snacks. This alternative will remain open until August 2014.

On top of the addition of the Construction Café, other food service areas are extending their hours to compensate for the closed University Centre. In the Student Union Building (SUB), the International Grill is now serving breakfast from 7:30 a.m. until 10:30 a.m. and Bean There is open at 6:30 a.m. for the early risers.

“Students, staff, and community members are busier than ever, and sometimes breakfast is the thing that falls through the cracks. It’s especially difficult to cook or prepare a robust breakfast before racing out the door. We provide good food at reasonable prices, and the ability to enjoy it in a fun, relaxed atmosphere,” said UVSS General Manager, Dale Robertson by email.

According to Robertson, this is the first time in years that the SUB has offered these types of options. “Unfortunately, sales could not support the extra labour and resources,” he wrote.

“We also opened a temporary food outlet in Vertigo to complement the existing items we serve at Bean There. It is named ‘Bun That.’  As per the name, we serve a unique variety of stuffed buns (that are made in-house), salads, sushi, soft drinks, and dessert,” said Robertson.

It is not yet apparent if these options will continue after renovations are complete or if they are just for the time being.

“If students, faculty, and staff continue to support these services, we will definitely discuss continuing the arrangement,” said Robertson.

Mystic Market dining

Once the new Mystic Market facility is complete, it will offer nine different dining venues, according to Dusterbeck. Options will include things like all-day breakfast, fresh stir fry, as well as a West Coast barbecue grill. Also included will be a convenience store for smaller, quicker snacks.

“Students will benefit from a much wider selection of menu choices, including more options for those with special dietary needs. The facility will serve a range of vegetarian and vegan offerings, as well as nut-free, gluten-free, and dairy-free options,” said Dusterbeck.

In addition to catering to students, Mystic Market will provide a space for special events and will be accessible to members of the public who are attending various theatre or music events at UVic. Dusterbeck believes this will create new opportunities for accessing food and drink on campus at night.

“When the new facility is completed, it is expected to be more than just a place to eat; it will serve as a gathering place for the UVic community and a hub of student and staff-faculty interaction,” said Dusterbeck.