College cafeterias have gained a reputation for being, well… not that great.

Since 2009, Michigan State University has been renovating its cafeterias to defeat the negative stereotype associated with residence hall dining. As part of a proposal that Residential and Hospitality Services calls the Dining Master Plan, seven cafeterias on campus have undergone major renovations. The remodeling of Akers dining hall in East Neighborhood will mark completion of the Dining Master Plan following its opening in January 2015.

Anticipated appearance of Akers Dining Hall after construction. Photo via Eat at State

According to Infrastructure and Planning Facilities, the Dining Master Plan was designed to create “an integrated approach to neighborhood dining across campus, aligning dining capacities with projected changes in housing occupancy to meet demands and needs for any given part of campus”.

The planning process for the reconstruction of the Akers Dining Hall dates back to January of 2013 when Culinary Services hired the architect for the job.

“Akers Dining Hall closed May 2014, and major construction began,” says Matt McKune, the assistant director of Residential Dining for Culinary Services and project manager for the remodel. “Preliminary construction (infrastructure and fire suppression installation) began in March 2014”.

The redesigned cafeteria will have capacity said to seat 400 to 550 and will offer a modernized dining experience for Akers Hall residents and other Michigan State University staff and students.

“The dining hall is receiving a full renovation, complete with new seating and new food venues,” states McKune. “The food venues include a sandwich station, dessert station, pizza station, a stir-fry station, a tandoori oven, a smoker for smoked meats and vegetables, a grill and a salad station.”

Accounting sophomore Mae Kastros called Akers Hall her home during her freshman year. The renovation has her considering a trip back to her old stomping grounds to put the new cafeteria to the ultimate taste test.

“I think [the renovations] will definitely add an appeal to the cafeteria because last year, the sandwich station only had hamburgers and chicken sandwiches,” shares Kastros. “I would consider returning once the dining hall opens again, just to see how much it has changed”.

The Akers Dining Hall will join the six cafeterias on campus that have been remodeled as a part of the Dining Master Plan. Cafeterias that include Brody Square, Riverwalk Market at Owen Hall, Holden Dining Hall, South Pointe at Case Hall, The Vista at Shaw Hall and, most recently, Heritage Commons at Landon Hall.

Heritage Commons reopened its doors on August 23, 2014. Eat at State says it was the first major renovation at Landon Hall since it opened in 1947.

Landon Dining hall after renovation

Alex Myslinski, a resident at Landon Hall says that the changes made to the cafeteria have enhanced his living experience on campus.

“With a continually great menu and opulent atmosphere, the dining hall gives me a sense of pride to invite friends and family to share in it,” Myslinksi said.

With the reopening of the Akers Hall Dining facility just around the corner, students and other diners aren’t the only crowd that culinary services hopes to receive. Employees to equip the cafeteria are also in demand.

“Each time culinary services has opened a new dining hall, we have increased offerings to students.” McKune said. “This will be the case for the new Akers Dining Hall as well.”

The Akers Dining Hall is set to open to students in January 2015.

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