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The décor is muted, but the food is not
New student dining hall — replacing older, seismically challenged facilities — puts ‘excitement on the plate’

| 12 February 2003


Huge windows let in streams of natural light as chefs at the new Crossroads dining facility prepare grub for hundreds of hungry students.
Carol Hyman photo

Crossroads, a state-of-the-art campus dining facility, recently opened on the first floor of the new four-story Residential and Student Services Building, at 2415 Bowditch St. There Berkeley students and other diners can watch their meals being freshly prepared with nary a warming light or steam table in sight.

Overseeing the food preparation at Crossroads is Jean-Pierre Metivier, the campus’s classically trained executive chef. The seven food stations in the new facility range from the “CalZone,” where pizza and pasta are made fresh, to a Mongolian grill, where students can choose meats and vegetables to be cooked to order, to “Bear Necessities,” with its cereal and fruit.

Crossroads General Manager Michael Laux says the 40,331-square-foot building’s glass-and-steel décor — as well as its high ceilings, huge windows that let in streams of natural light, and stark white walls — are deliberately understated.”The emphasis here is on the food,” he says. “Rather than having paintings on the walls, color and excitement are on the plate.”

The facility, designed by the architectural firm of Canon Dworsky, is surrounded by courtyards that will permit al fresco dining when the weather cooperates.
Crossroads can seat 800 people at a time; close to 2,000 recently came through the facility for one dinner.

When students arrive for a meal, one swipe of their meal card allows them to enter the dining hall and choose whatever they want, in whatever quantity they desire. For a fee, students without a meal plan (and, in fact, anyone else) may partake. Meal costs are $4.75 for breakfast, $6.75 for lunch, and $7.25 for dinner (which is available until 9 p.m., two hours later than other campus dining facilities).

Built for the long term
Crossroads had been on the campus’s drawing board for years, but real progress began when seismic studies rated the old dining facility “poor.” Rather than retrofit the existing hall, Berkeley took the opportunity to build a state-of-the-art facility, with fresh, innovative food and a new décor to match.

The new dining hall should remain functional in the event of a moderate earthquake, and is large enough to feed the campus and surrounding community for a short time after such an incident.

“This new building has been planned to be here for the long term,” says Nancy Jurich, director of administration and business services for Housing & Dining Services. “The beauty is that the facility can be changed in the future, with equipment that can be moved out easily and upgraded when needed.”

Indeed, the seven food stations have the flexibility to change with customers’ tastes. “As trends come and go,” explains Laux, “we can change the stations to serve different types of food. Also, because the huge facility can be divided, during summers and other slow times we can use just one or two stations. By the same token, we can open as many parts as we need.”

Assistant Director of Dining Services Arvell Howell, who has been at Berkeley for 17 years, said the long wait for a new facility was worth it.

“I’m excited because the staff is excited,” he said, adding that a number of the facility’s 60 full-time employees have expertise in various ethnic cuisines and volunteered to work at those stations.

Crossroads also employs some 25 part-time staff members and 10 students, and its managers hope to bring to 30 the number of student workers employed there.