Officials have temporarily abandoned plans to convert District House’s basement into an all-you-can-eat dining hall, instead saying the basement will hold vendors serving traditional meals.
The University announced plans last August to renovate District House’s basement food court, which previously housed vendors accepting GWorld, into one of three all-you-can-eat dining halls to be located on the Foggy Bottom campus, joining Shenkman and Thurston Halls. Associate Vice President of Business Services Seth Weinshel said officials decided to change course on District’s renovations in late April, and will instead retain the vendor-based format, with Chartwells Higher Education operating the vendors and accepting dining “blocks” as payment.
“What we are doing is we are refreshing District House and introducing new brands into District House that will all be part of the GW dining program,” Weinshel said. “So each of the vendors are getting a refresh.”
Weinshel said the new vendors that will open in District House’s basement will be True Burger, Halal Shack, a national brand that has locations in other Chartwells-run campuses, D.C. Taco, salad restaurant Crisp and a pizza and pasta concept. Weinshel said Chartwells will operate the vendors and allow options to be replaced if students desire other cuisines not yet featured on campus.
“One of the things that we will then do at some point in the fall is offer students the ability we think to be able to vote on what concepts do they want to see in there,” Weinshel said. “If we want an Indian concept or we want an Asian concept, you can change some of them.”
Weinshel said the vendors will accept payment via blocks as part of the University’s new dining plan. He said a single block from one of the vendors would allow a student to purchase a “meal” which he defined as an entree, drink and a side or a dessert from any of the locations. In Shenkman and Thurston Halls, a dining block can be used to gain entry into the all-you-can-eat dining halls in those buildings.
Weinshel said he expects Shenkman, Thurston and District House to all be ready for dining by the beginning of the upcoming fall semester, and that the halls will have sufficient capacity for the entire student population.
Weinshel also said officials did not yet have a timeline on when Chick-fil-A, which previously operated in District House, will open on the first floor of the University Student Center. He said “mechanical challenges” with Chick-fil-A’s planned location within the student center contributed to the lack of a solid timeline.
“We know the size of it, where we were planning on putting it we ran into some challenges with some mechanical things and so we have to move it someplace else,” Weinshel said. “It will be on the first floor of the student center somewhere.”
He said officials’ desire to preserve District’s status as both a dining location and a space for students to gather and study went into their decision to not convert the basement into an all-you-can-eat dining hall, but that officials may revisit that decision in the future.
“Knowing that as a campus, community space is something that’s really important, and we don’t want to necessarily cannibalize it,” Weinshel said.
Grace Chinowsky and Zach Blackburn contributed reporting.