WMU officials formally launch new cutting-edge Valley Dining Center

Contact: Cheryl Roland
Photo of WMU's Valley Dining Center.

The Valley Dining Center

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—After months of having their appetites whetted by tales of a new restaurant-style dining center on campus, the Western Michigan University and Kalamazoo communities will get their first look Thursday, Sept. 1, at WMU's new Valley Dining Center.

Photo of Dining Services staff in the Valley Dining Center.

Dining Services staff members will welcome diners beginning Sept. 2.

University officials, architects and builders will gather with students and the broader community for brief remarks and a formal ribbon cutting at 3 p.m. That ceremony will be followed by self-guided tours until 6 p.m. of the newly completed Goldsworth Valley dining facility that features nine restaurant-style venues and will be open to the entire community.

Making brief remarks and formally launching the $36 million facility will be:

  • WMU President John M. Dunn.
  • WMU Vice President for Student Affairs Diane Anderson.
  • Tricia Beck, representing the architectural firm Smith Group JJR of Detroit.
  • Dan LaMore, senior vice president of the construction firm Christman Co.'s West Michigan operations.
  • Judy Gipper, director of WMU Dining Services, who will act as host and emcee.

About the Valley Dining Center

The new Valley Dining Center, which nestles into the environment across the street from and with a view overlooking Goldsworth Valley Pond, was built to surpass LEED silver specifications and designed to serve as the anchor for the Goldsworth Valley campus neighborhood. The area is home to the majority of WMU's first-year students. 

While all WMU dining centers are open to all campus and community guests, the Valley Dining Center is expected to be a particularly popular destination because of its variety of daily dining choices, attractive surrounding and ample seating options. The WMU Bronco identity is evident throughout the Valley Dining Center and reflected in graphic images and Bronco colors.

Food is prepared in front of the guests in a series of micro-restaurants on the second floor of the facility. Each micro-restaurant has its own menu, associated seating area, décor and theme. Each micro-restaurant has a unique name associated with the cuisine offered: Traditions, Cilantro's, Pastaria, Pacific Plate, Blazin' Bronco, Fresh Creations, My Pantry and Sweet Sensations. 

At these venues, diners will be able to select from Asian cuisine, home-style classics, pizza or pasta choices, Latin dishes, deli sandwiches and wraps, breakfast fare, a classic grill menu, a salad bar that includes cut fresh fruit selections, and a full dessert station that will specialize in crepes and s’mores. A venue called My Pantry will serve the growing number of students with food allergies and special nutritional needs. The controlled, allergen-free zone will serve individually prepared selections that are gluten-free, and nut- and peanut-free.

Photo of a micro-restaurant in the Valley Dining Center.

One of nine micro-restaurants in the new center

"We've paid close attention to student needs and the qualities they've told us they want to see where they live and dine," says Dr. Diane Anderson, vice president for student affairs. "And then we went even further and tried to anticipate their future wishes, meet campus dining trends and provide the kind of gathering space that makes students proud to be a Bronco and a WMU campus resident. That 'wow' factor we've built into the Valley Dining Center is an important part of attracting and retaining students and helping them build memories that will stay with them for years to come."

In addition to the nine dining venues on the second floor, the Valley Dining Center also includes a first-floor convenience store and café, Café 1903, that will complement the expansive dining choices on the upper floor. This retail establishment will offer snacks, light meals and beverages through the late-night period, in addition to a place to study or socialize with friends.

The 61,000-square-foot facility has a seating capacity of just over 1,000, will have a full-time professional staff of more than 30 and is expected to employ more than 300 student employees. In addition to the public seating for diners patronizing the nine venues on the second floor, a number of private dining rooms have been included in the design to facilitate mealtime meetings. Throughout the facility, the WMU Bronco identity has been highlighted with extensive artwork focusing on that theme.  

The Valley Dining Center is open for normal business operations beginning Friday, Sept. 2, and the University kicks off its fall semester Tuesday, Sept. 6. The center is set up to accept student meal plans, cash, credit cards and WMU Dining Dollars. 

For more news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.