Ever since Saint Mary’s opened its Moraga campus in 1928, Oliver Hall has nourished the College’s community of hungry scholars.
Aspiring physicians and poets have all broken bread together at Oliver’s rectangular red oak tables during the last eight decades. At alumni reunions, best friends and even spouses reverentially return to the table where they met.
As new generations of students enter the College, however, they arrive with increasingly sophisticated palates. Young gourmands accustomed to choosing among organic and international cuisine options want something more from their dining experience than a cafeteria where meat, bread and potatoes are doled out in assembly-line fashion.
So to satiate students’ evolving appetites, Saint Mary’s has embarked on a $16 million renovation of the College’s primary dining facility. Beginning in August, students and visitors to Oliver Hall will be treated to a thoroughly modern menu in a space that preserves the hall’s traditional ambiance.
“Our goal is to provide an up-to-date facility for student, faculty and staff dining,” says Brother President Ronald Gallagher. “I also think that this facility will not only keep our community healthy, but will provide an enhanced social environment.”
Oliver will still have its long windows and oil paintings, but will also feature food-court dining with seven cooking stations. The menu will change daily, with multiple entrée options at each meal ranging from grilled meat to pasta to Asian stir-fry vegetables.
Neither carnivores nor vegans will go away hungry.
“With more stations, we’ll be able to provide more variety,” says Matt Carroll, general manager of Sodexo Dining Services on campus. “This is more what students are used to seeing in mall food courts and other places.”
In addition to demystifying food preparation by bringing it closer to the students, Sodexo will have electronic menus that provide information on meals’ nutritional content and the farms where produce originated.
“We’ll be the best in the West,” Carroll says. “It will be a showcase for Saint Mary’s when we bring in new students.”