The University of Connecticut’s McMahon Hall dining facility will feature a new international theme, cooking on display and more seating for guests when the facility reopens in August after a major renovation. One of eight residential dining units on the Storrs campus, McMahon recently underwent a $9 million renovation that expanded its size to 9,500 sq.ft. and increased seating from 374 to about 530.
The work also incorporates environmentally friendly practices such as composting and the addition of energy-saving kitchen equipment, lighting, windows, and other items. Construction started in March and is scheduled to finish the first week of August, with the first meals scheduled to be served on Saturday, Aug. 25.
McMahon, opened in 1964, is located in the same facility as UConn’s International Center and the Global House Learning Community, comprising students from around the world who live in McMahon to learn from each other about global culture, politics, and the arts. That made the international theme an ideal fit for the renovated McMahon facility, which is in the center of campus and is a popular dining choice for students, says Dennis Pierce, UConn’s director of dining services.
“With an increasingly diverse population residing at the Storrs campus, Dining Services will be drawing from a large international array of menu selections,” he notes. “We hope to meet the needs of our international students with home-cooked recipes as well as educate others to new and exciting dishes.”
McMahon’s renovated dining facility will include an “open kitchen” concept, in which meals are prepared in the dining area where customers can watch and interact with the chefs. Two tandoori ovens also have been installed for the preparation of specialties popular in India and other countries.
All areas except the salad bar and deli will change to a “small plate” concept, an approach in which diners select a variety of items for a chance to try various dishes. The concept, popular in many European nations, is becoming increasingly common in the U.S. and many other countries.
The McMahon dining facility’s layout also has been specially designed to allow easy circulation for patrons between the stations and the seating areas, where a combination of lounge and café-style seating will be available. Flexible furniture and a section that evokes a living room layout are also being included to provide a convivial atmosphere.
The $9 million renovation was guided by Pierce and Dining Services Area Manager Eric Janssen, along with Katherine Viveiros, a senior project manager from UConn’s Office of Architectural, Engineering and Building Services.Bruner/Cott of Cambridge, MA, served as architects and planners, and the renovations were done by Prellwitz Chilinski Associates (PCA), also of Cambridge.