Margaret Ware Dining Room undergoing renovation

Margaret Ware Dining Room undergoing renovation

June 3, 2014

It took less than 48 hours for construction crews to strip the Margaret Ware Dining Room at Maryville College down to the bricks and studs. They have approximately 13 weeks to ready the space to feed about 600 students daily.

The dining hall, located on the ground floor of 104-year-old Pearsons Hall, has served generations of students and is named for Ware, who served the College as dietician and dining hall manager from 1934 until 1973.

Its transformation this summer – into a modern and environmentally-friendly venue where local food will be prepared to order as students look on – is something former students and Ware, who died in 1996, would likely find unbelievable.

“It’s going to be a totally different experience for the students. They won’t recognize the interior of this building when they come back here in the fall,” said Barry Brooke, executive vice president and director of developmental services of the Knoxville-based construction company Lawler-Wood.

Brooke added that Pearsons, which was built in 1910, lends itself perfectly to the look of an “urban warehouse redo.” Architectural plans call for exposed bricks and ceilings, dimmable track lighting, power outlets and wireless hotspots throughout the facility. Brooke said the space will “feel like a coffee shop,” where students will have a place to meet and collaborate on projects.

The renovation, which should conclude before Aug. 14, is including some energy efficient and environmentally sustainable measures: Wood used in the project will be harvested from within a 500-mile radius, an energy-efficient heating and cooling system will be installed and some types of wastewater will be recaptured.

The lobby and alcove of the ground floor are also being renovated. A large portion of the lobby will be allocated for use as a convenience store. Bathrooms that were in the lobby are being moved to the alcove, where they will be larger and ADA compliant. The Proffitt Dining Room, located in an area of Pearsons that was added in 1935, is not a part of the project.

Residential space on the second and third floors of Pearsons Hall has been unoccupied since 2009. The College hopes to renovate those floors, as well as the kitchen on the first floor, in the next year.

Metz is new food services provider

The renovation coincides with the College’s change in its food service provider. Earlier this year, Maryville College President Dr. William T. “Tom” Bogart announced that Metz Culinary Management had been selected to provide the College’s campus meals and catering for the next 10 years. The announcement followed a five-month review of several food service providers that had submitted proposals.

According to Bogart, companies were asked to take into consideration six of the College’s priorities for food services when submitting their proposals. Those priorities included value for students and employees, quality of food and services, flexible student meal plan options, adequately trained and supported staff, quality catering and commitment to environmentally sustainable practices.

“Cabinet members and I agree that Metz’s proposal – as well as their on-campus presentations and meetings with various campus constituents – best addressed our needs, and we believe that Metz will be responsive to future needs and requests,” the president wrote in a memo to campus. “And Metz’s mission statement mentions collaboration with clients to ‘deliver restaurant-inspired hospitality to each and every guest.’”

Headquartered in Dallas, Pa., Metz Culinary Management was founded by John C. Metz in 1994. The family-owned, family-operated company specializes in providing dining management solutions for healthcare, educational and corporate accounts. Metz Culinary Management was recently named a “Top 5” company to watch by Food Management magazine and was listed at No. 20 on the magazine’s list of the top 50 food service management companies.

Providing food services for several colleges in the eastern United States such as Ursuline, Marlboro and Lebanon Valley and the University of Pittsburg at Bradford and Titusville, Metz has a track record of success in higher education, including a 100 percent retention rate among those clients. The partnership with Maryville College will mark Metz’s expansion into Tennessee.

Food prepared to order

When students eat their first meals in the renovated dining hall this fall, they'll find a wide range of new options.

Seven stations in the main dining area will include a wood stone pizza oven, an exhibition cooking space, an entrees bar, a full-service deli and a salad bar. Incorporated into the serving line will be a grill, char-broiler and fryer.

“We’re committed to a long-term relationship. We want to continue to listen to students and their feedback, which is ever-changing. I think that’s important,” said Dennis Daley, district manager of Metz Culinary Management.

With Maryville College being Metz’s first account in Tennessee, Daley said that the company wants students “to have had a positive experience when they talk about our food and our services.”

Metz supports a “farm-to-fork” approach to dining, and the company’s commitment to locally produced food brings with it at least one unexpected perk: any fruit the orchards in the College Woods bear can be served in the dining hall.

Students will get information about healthy choices from digital screens in the dining hall, as well as online and through social media.

According to Daley, Metz’s commitment to create a restaurant atmosphere that offers healthy and sustainable choices reflects good culinary practice and common sense.

“At the end of the day, it’s the way we all want to live, and it’s good for us,” he said. “We consider the total footprint of where food is grown, where it’s shipped and where it’s manufactured. And we try to keep that footprint as local as possible.”

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”