Thurston Hall dining space opens doors Wednesday

Media Credit: File Photo by Arielle Bader

A new dining hall in Thurston Hall, pictured here in 2019, started providing all-you-care-to-eat meals to the University community Wednesday morning.

Officials opened the doors of an all-you-can-eat dining hall in Thurston Hall Wednesday morning after months of preparations and an overhaul of the building’s residential space.

The new 225-seat dining hall located on Thurston’s lower level opened for business Wednesday at 7:30 a.m. and features nine concept stations, including a deli counter, bakery station, cereal bar and a Pure Eats allergen-free section separated from other food. Officials said in an email Wednesday that the dining hall’s debut, which officials originally scheduled for September but delayed because of global supply chain issues, was the next phase of their multi-year dining “transformation.”

Students can use their GWorld Dining Dollars to purchase an all-you-care-to-eat meal from any of the stations for $8 at breakfast, $10 at lunch and $12 at dinner, according to the email. Faculty, staff and students without a GW meal plan can pay with cash, credit or funds loaded onto their GWorld card.

“As we continue our focus on our GW community and residential student dining, flexibility and choice will continue to be at the heart of our program as food options are as varied as our identities, health and dietary needs, activities and schedules,” the email states.

The dining hall will serve breakfast from 7:30 to 10 a.m., lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and dinner from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on weekdays, while only brunch and dinner are offered over the weekend, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m., respectively. The email states students on a dining plan can also mobile order from Butcher & Baker, the deli counter station, on the BoostMobile app and pick up their orders from food lockers from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays.

The email states Thurston’s dining hall is a “community-only experience” accessible only to faculty, staff, students and invited guests. In July, the D.C. Zoning Commission approved a request from officials to prohibit the public from entering the dining hall in the basement of District House despite community concerns about the lack of affordable dining in Foggy Bottom.

The University reopened Thurston Hall as a residence hall in late August after significant renovations and began housing students despite the dining hall not being ready until now. Officials are offering to name parts of Thurston after donors who contribute thousands or millions of dollars, depending on the size of the space.

Officials said the dining hall in Shenkman Hall, which they originally planned to open this fall and expect to seat about 320 students, will instead open its doors when students return from winter break in January. The email stated officials will also make “additional enhancements” to the dining hall in District House during summer 2023, after abandoning their original all-you-can-eat plan for the space for a more traditional vendor format.

According to documents obtained by The Hatchet last spring, two rotating “retail concepts” and a 54-seat market and juice bar were planned to replace the space where Potbelly Sandwich Shop was previously located on Shenkman’s ground floor. The lower level will seat 265 students via a variety of table sizes and seating options and feature seven “micro-restaurant” vendors.

Officials said student meal plans will transition from the current Dining Dollars program to a meal swipe program with unlimited and block plans according to class year in the spring, based on the meal plan that students selected for the fall last summer.

“By the end of the month we will provide an overview to help reacquaint you with how the meal swipe program works,” the email states.

Seth Weinshel, the associate vice president of business services, said during a Student Association meeting Monday that the University will open a cafe in the Hillel building in the “very near future” and plans to create a “student dining commission” to gather student feedback on campus dining facilities.

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