Transylvania University Servery Renovation
In the heart of Lexington, Kentucky, sits a small liberal arts university with a rich heritage, a storied history and now a brand new campus center.
Transylvania University, founded in 1780 and today home to about 1,000 students, recently completed the renovation and expansion of its William T. Young Campus Center, which includes a new dining center outfitted with LTI serving counters and technology.
The $30 million project, which included about 61,000 square feet of new construction and more than 36,000 square feet of renovated space, reshaped campus life by introducing a comprehensive student center that bridges the residential and academic areas of campus.
But despite big ideas, the university was working with a more modest budget befitting its size. That’s where Laura Lentz, FCSI, design principal and co-owner of Culinary Advisors, got creative to help the school develop a highly functional, up-to-date servery.
The dining area is dubbed the Great Hall and features modern food choices with action stations, healthy choices, transparency in food delivery and updated menu options that appeal to students. There is also an adjoining café with extended operating hours for late-night menus.
“They wanted to hit the reset button and bring their operation into a modern servery situation,” Lentz said. “So the question was how do we get variety without having to have a station for every menu item.”
The key to getting the most from the new dining facility was flexibility, Lentz said.
“In higher ed, there’s high volume and constant food service but also significant gaps and down periods,” she said. “For that kind of environment, we wanted a facility that had a lot of capacity and flexibility when it was running at those peak times but also easy cleanability when it was time to recover from the rush.”
Lentz selected die wall counters from LTI for most of the servery’s seven stations. This rear leg construction design provided space under the counters where roll-away carts or dollies could be stowed for additional storage or holding capacity. And it supported plug-and-play setup for interchangeable equipment like woks or planchas.
“You don’t want to drive something so specific that you force them to do the same things over and over. These are menus that are going to change, and their equipment needs to be able to respond to that,” she said.
Success was about finding a balance between creating a long-lasting, multifunctional servery and not overbuilding to the point that the project became unaffordable.
“Instead of designing for every single piece of equipment, we designed the counters so that equipment can be changed in and out. They can offer variety without having to have one of everything installed,” Lentz added.
The die wall counter design also made cleaning and sanitation easier by providing an open, easily reachable space.
A full-bodied LTI counter was selected for the salad bar. Because of the orientation, the rear of the counter is visible to students, so Lentz wanted to provide an optimal experience for them by providing a more finished, upscale appearance.
Lentz also selected LTI’s QuickSwitch wells for the project. With patented QuickSwitch technology, wells are independently controlled and can hold hot, cold or frozen foods side by side. Wells can switch between temperatures in an hour or less, giving operators the flexibility to serve regularly changing menus using the same equipment.
The pros at LTI were key to the successful project, which opened its doors in late 2020, Lentz said.
“Service is huge for me. It’s absolutely critical,” she said. “A manufacturer’s turnaround time and the ability to be responsive when I have a question or need something — that’s so important to keeping a project on track and allowing me to stay engaged with my client.”
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