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Memorial Union dining hall to undergo renovations over summer

The Memorial Union Pitchforks Dining Hall pictured on Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Tempe.  

The Memorial Union Pitchforks Dining Hall pictured on Sunday, April 10, 2016, in Tempe.  

Pitchforks Dining Hall is one of the busiest dining halls on campus, but it's also one of the most outdated, according to the facility's employees.

Pitchforks, located in the Memorial Union, will close its doors on April 22 to begin a much-needed renovation over the summer. The popular facility serves students in nearby residence halls, such as McClintock Hall and the Arcadia Residential Community, with thousands of additional students and staff passing through the dining hall every day. 

Kellie Cloud, the executive director of the Memorial Union, explained that the increased enrollment and levels of student engagement have been the main reasons why the decision was made to upgrade the dining facility.

“As part of a broader plan to enhance the Memorial Union over the next several years, ASU and Aramark have worked together to reshape the dining experience offered at Pitchfork’s including expansion of the space, updated environment, and a new menu concept that will reflect the needs and desires of our diverse student population,” Cloud wrote in an email.

Cloud wrote Pitchforks will see major upgrades, like a more modern design and more seats to give the dining hall a "community feel."

“The renovation will give Pitchforks a more contemporary design, including open counters, views to cooking and prep stations, and flexible dining spaces which allow more students to dine together,” Cloud wrote. “The new layout will provide 160 additional seats including high top tables, community style seating and modern booths.”

The new upgrades also mean a new menu for the dining hall as well, which will cater more to ASU’s diverse population, Cloud said.

“The new menu reflects our regional presence in the southwestern United States and responds to our students’ request for international offerings,” Cloud wrote. “Vegetarian and vegan options will be incorporated into every station.”

A sign outside Pitchforks' neighboring restaurant, Taco Bell, said the restaurant will also be closed during renovation. Cloud confirmed Taco Bell will no longer be at the Memorial Union after the summer renovations are over. Instead, the Taco Bell area will be incorporated into the design of the new dining hall.

Pitchforks dining hall employee Priyansha Chadha has been working at Pitchforks since September 2014 and said she has seen a constant issue: Pitchforks' small capacity. 

"It's been set up like this for a while," Chadha said. "On weekdays, it's a capacity issue. I definitely believe (the renovation) is needed."

Chadha said Pitchforks isn't normally open during the summer anyway, so she and other Pitchforks employees will be assigned to other dining hall restaurants like Manzanita, Hassayampa or Barrett. 

Architectural studies freshman Lauren Colone lives in the Arcadia community and uses Pitchforks as her primary dining hall. Colone said she was excited for the future renovation, even though she won't be living on campus next year. 

"(The Renovation) is needed," Colone said. "Everything is super outdated. A lot of the seats are torn up. Everything just looks outdated and old." 

Related links:

The first Pei Wei on a college campus opens up at the Memorial Union

How to: Healthful Eating at the MU

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