Since the end of last semester, Founders Commons has been undergoing general repairs and renovations to make the building more handicap-accessible and move the main entrance from the bottom floor to the top.
Mills College Dining Services is installing an Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant bathroom on the second level of the building, where diners receive and eat their meals, and a renovated ramp and walkway that leads to the porch in the rear of the building.
“They’re making a bathroom and remaking the handicapped space by the loading dock,” said Jason Landau, the current General Manager of Mills Bon Appétit Services. Landau estimates that the new bathroom installment should be completed by the end of February.
“Founders has been our workhouse on campus for 50 years, and is in need of lots of repairs and last spring the College decided to go ahead with the work. The bulk of the work will happen this summer,” said Director of Auxiliary Services, Dorothy Calimeris. “When the students return in the fall you will see a new look in the dining room.”
She added that the handicapped parking spaces are also being redone to accommodate students with disabilities. Repairs also include more sustainable and energy-efficient equipment in the Founders industrial kitchen, including the boilers and dishwashers.
In addition, she said that to make the building more accessible to everyone, “over the summer there will be a lovely walkway and porch area that will change the point of entry to Founders from the bottom to the top.” Currently diners without disabilities enter Founders at the top of the hill, up steps to the bottom floor and up more stairs to get to the top level.
The renovations are a part of an administrative decision to upgrade dining services as a whole. According to Campus Architect Karen Fiene the upgrades to Founders will cost $1.5 million, and future renovations to centralize dining at the Tea Shop in Rothwell Center will cost upwards of $15 million.
New food options were also rolled out this semester, including a weekly Tapioca Bar at Founders and a “Take ‘n Bake” pizza option at the Tea Shop.
“We’re branching out — folks can buy and take home pizzas to bake,” said Roselia Zendejas, the Operations Manager. More express salads and sandwiches are being offered as well.
“In my opinion the sandwiches are pretty good, they have pretty good flavor and they taste rich,” said sophomore Angelica Addison. New sandwiches and salad options are being offered at the Tea Shop including the Pork Banh Mi, a pork baguette sandwich.
Candy options are also in the works at the Tea Shop, with upcoming specials on new espresso drinks. More vegetarian and vegan options are also being added to the deli, grill and global sections. Bon Appétit has also partnered with Sustainability and Recycling Coordinator Britta Bullard to create green-friendly activities for the student body.
“Hopefully we will have the recruitment of art students to do art with things outside of our kitchen. Things that can be reused, and to be transformed into a beautiful art project,” said Zendejas. Bon Appétit is also hosting an event with guest speaker and West Coast Fellow for the company, Vera Chang who will talk about her work fighting for farm workers’ rights.
“Conditions for the tomato farm workers in Florida are horrific. Bon Appétit has taken a stand for the tomato workers,” said Zendejas. The event will be held Feb. 10.
Bon Appétit will also be starting its campaign for a Low-Carbon Diet from February to April, and will program events in coordination with Earth Week activities on campus.