We know what they did this summer: Remodeled cafe, refreshed Student Center

Some cool, refreshed spaces will greet Metropolitan Community College students and faculty as they start the new school year.

The biggest project of the summer is the $1.3 million renovation of the MCC-Penn Valley cafe, on the zero level of the Campus Center. Both the kitchen and serving area have been redone, following improvements to the nearby seating area last year.

“It’s amazing. You won’t even recognize it,” says Robert Burkey, MCC director of facility operations. “It’s really, really nice-looking.”

Architect’s rendering of the MCC-Penn Valley cafe serving area, with a salad bar in the center . . .
. . . and the cafe on Aug. 28, about a week after it opened

The redesigned serving space is “definitely more modern, with a lot of upgrades . . . from top to bottom,” says Phil Jones with Elite Cuisine, which manages the MCC cafes.

The serving area now includes a salad bar. At the three serving stations, customers can choose from the entree of the day, sandwiches and wraps at the deli station, and a full grill. Last school year, the cafe mostly offered grill items (chicken fingers, fries etc.) and wraps.

Jones says the Penn Valley cafe will be MCC’s only full-service cafeteria. The dining operations at Blue River, Longview and Maple Woods have gone to the “e-mart” model, with customers ordering and paying at kiosks, similar to ordering hot food at QuikTrip. Both grill and grab-and-go items are available at those campuses.

MCC-Penn Valley faculty member Dan Justice joined the 8-year-old son of Basil Lister, director of campus operations, in signing a wall in the revitalized Penn Valley cafe.

At a ceremony Aug. 13, Chancellor Kimberly Beatty, MCC-Penn Valley President Tyjaun Lee and others signed a wall in the serving area that will soon be covered by a “slat wall,” likely to display chips and other snacks. The signature wall will become something of a time capsule — hidden until next time there’s construction in the cafe.

“This is going to be energy, synergy for our students, faculty and staff,” Dr. Beatty told those gathered. “So many things happen around food, right? … It’s a fellowship area.”

The cafe is open 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. weekdays. In addition to a daily hot entree, sides and grill items, customers will find soup, grab-and-go salads, calzones and hot pretzels, and bakery items such as bagels and cookies.

At the wall signing ceremony: MCC-Penn Valley President Tyjaun Lee (from left), Jennifer Hart of Hartline Construction, Chancellor Kimberly Beatty, and Sherry Krisman and Shelli Ulmer of Hollis + Miller architects.

The Penn Valley cafe project follows renovations of dining areas and kitchens at the other campuses, Burkey says.

Architects were Hollis + Miller, with construction by Hartline Construction. Both are Kansas City companies.

The reinvigorated student dining space at MCC-Maple Woods’ Student Center. The Campus Life & Leadership office is at the far end in this photo.
Another view of the MCC-Maple Woods Student Center project

Meanwhile, the MCC-Maple Woods Student Center got a $100,000 refresh over the summer. MCC Facilities workers did this job, which includes new LED lighting, carpet, paint and ceiling fixtures. Furniture in the student dining area, added last year, now has more power — as in places to charge phones and other devices (both USB and standard electrical outlets).

The Campus Life & Leadership office and student organization space, on opposite ends of the dining area, were remodeled as well, and a half-wall and some old planter boxes were removed.

“It will be a really light, vibrant space for students,” says Rene Bennett, Maple Woods director of campus operations. The MCC Wolf mascot is highly visible in the refreshed space.

[ Related: Our mascot, the Wolf, is suddenly everywhere on the MCC campuses ]

Elsewhere, there’s a lot of sidewalk repair going on at MCC-Longview, which Facilities hopes to have finished before students get back.

And at the Administrative Center, there’s a revamped main entrance inside the parking garage with a new ramp and relocated visitor parking.

A new handicap-accessible entrance from the parking garage leads to the front doors (right) of the MCC Administrative Center, 3200 Broadway.