The explosion of Argenta Hall on July 5, 2019 left the University of Nevada, Reno without one of their dining options, the Downunder Cafe—also referred to as the DC. Since then, the DC has been moved to its temporary location, the Den, but it is soon to change at the start of the Fall 2022 semester.
With construction on Argenta Hall coming to a close within the next year, a new and renamed version of the DC will be coming to the university. Students will find a completely remodeled dining commons with many new food additions. The new name has not been decided on yet.
The Nevada Sagebrush has posted a photo gallery of computer renderings of the new space.
Dean Kennedy, executive director of Residential Life, Housing and Food service, explained Chartwells Higher Ed gave $6.9 million towards the construction of the new dining commons. This is in addition to the $45 million going towards the overall construction of Argenta.
There will be 12 new food stations in the dining commons, as well as the addition of a “students’ choice” station.
“Students will get to vote on what they would like to see at that dining station,” said Kennedy. “Examples can be Mediterranean fare, Indian fare, comfort food.”
There will also be 12 different cooking stations for students, faculty and staff to make their own food and hold cooking lessons.
The C-Store will be reopening with the dining hall, which will focus on healthier options like fresh fruits, vegetables and healthy grab-and-go snacks or meals. For students with dietary restrictions, there will be a retail option which will have Halal foods housed inside the convenience store.
In addition, there will be a G8 station where all foods included will omit all of the eight most common dietary restrictions: eggs, fish, shellfish, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans and wheat.
The emphasis on healthy dining options on campus also includes the addition of an on-site dietitian whose office will be housed inside the commons.
The dietitian will be available for all students who want guidance on their nutritional needs.
According to Kennedy, Chartwells Higher Ed is focusing sustainability efforts, which in recent years has been very hard to execute due to COVID-19.
“… [A] bunch of those were put on hold because of COVID in the Den,” said Kennedy. “So, back to a permanent location Chartwells will be able to easily reintegrate some more sustainability practices.”
Those practices include working with Pack Provisions for students to donate their meal swipes to the program and donating leftover food to local food shelters.
As for the building’s design, there will be more windows and natural lighting, over 500 seating areas—which is a 100 seat increase from the previous DC—and a hydroponic cabinet for students to grow their own culinary herbs.
“We’re calling it the ‘Showcase of the West’ because of what I described in this space,” said Kennedy. “It’s going to be phenomenal.”
The facility is still scheduled to open by Fall 2022. Upon opening, the Den will no longer be in operation.
Emerson Drewes can be reached via email at email@example.com or via Twitter @EmersonDrewes.