It was in a hubbub of noise and a swarm of hungry students that the University of Dallas and its dining service provider Aramark celebrated the official reopening of the newly-renovated Rathskellar, or “Rat,” last Wednesday, Oct. 3.
This is the first major update in the Rathskellar’s history, and the first renovation to a dining area since Haggar Cafe was refurbished in 2012.
Karin Rilley, the university’s general counsel, wrote that the renovations aimed to increase efficiency and space in the Rat while also providing new dining options to students.
The renovations included decreasing the cashier desk footprint and making minor changes to the grill area. Aramark is also offering new menu options as part of these changes.
During the celebration, representatives from Sushic and Pepsi-Cola offered sushi rolls and sparkling water samples to students, faculty, and staff, including Provost Jonathan Sanford and Director of Student Affairs Seth Oldham.
The Rat will now offer weekly menu rotations coordinated with outside vendors, Halo Top ice cream, and a new freestyle Coca-Cola machine. The new options were proposed by Aramark and coordinated by Aramark General Manager Kyle Wilson, according to Rilley.
Student have long expressed their desire for more varied food options.
Aramark also used market research for data regarding customers’ dining preferences, according to Rilley.
According to an online advertisement published by Aramark, Generation Z students are interested in convenience, health, and custom options. The sources cited in the advertisement came from a variety of consumer report studies, including Aramark’s own dining surveys.
Rilley highlighted the numerous ways students can provide feedback to Aramark, such as dining surveys, emails, phone calls, and meetings with various members of the UD community.
According to Rilley, Aramark meets biweekly with representatives from Student Government and members of the administration.
Student Government President Clare Slattery was also present at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
“My presence there was meant to show that all these renovations were done for the benefit of the students,” Slattery wrote.
Oldham wrote that the Office of Student Affairs holds weekly meetings with Wilson to “discuss dining services on campus.” Occasionally, he and Wilson meet multiple times in the same week.
The University News reached out to Wilson, but he declined to comment, referring all questions to Rilley.
The renovation was completed by the UD facilities team prior to the start of this school year, Rilley wrote.
The purpose of decreasing space around the cashier desk was to “provide more space for diners,” and the changes to the grill area ensured the Rat’s capability to serve new menu items, according to Rilley.
Rilley added that the efficiency of the adjustments will be measured by customer appreciation for the new space. Oldham said that he expects students will visit the Rat more often as a consequence of the updated food options.
In addition to pragmatic additions, aesthetic changes were also made. The Rat was painted blue and silver, and a UD decal was added.