$1 million spent to rejuvenate college’s Ryan Hall
Confederation College has officially opened the newly renovated Ryan Hall, which is more than just a cafeteria.
Bob Backstrom, vice-president, student and corporate services, said the goal was to spend $1 million on the 40-year-old Ryan Hall cafeteria to create “a new look, a new approach, a new concept. We were looking for a partner rather then someone just in a contract with us.”
The college partnered with Sedexo, who took part in the design and operation of Ryan Hall.
Backstrom explained the partnership on Tuesday.
“We aren’t going through the traditional you pay a commission, the more sales you do the more money we get. With that sort of approach, it tends to focus in on saving money at the expense of quality.
“We were looking for a partner to work with us, and we would go through it together . . . we would share in the results.
“In the meantime, our emphasis would be on quality and the atmosphere in the cafeteria,” said Backstrom.
He said the college wants Ryan Hall to be more than a cafeteria.
“We wanted this to be a place where students hang out in the dining area,’’ said Backstrom.
“We actually built booths around the outside edges, we put plug-ins there for them, and we have been happy to see them since the opening. The booths are almost always occupied and the students are getting together in small groups outside of normal dining hours and using this just as we intended.”
Backstrom said Ryan Hall was gutted and much of the kitchen equipment was also replaced.
“The cooking is more open so people can watch what the cooks are doing,’’ said Backstrom.
“We put in a new pizza oven, custom built. It weighs a lot. We had to get a crane in and open up the windows to bring it in.”
He said there might be another such oven in Thunder Bay, noting all sorts of breads can also be baked in it. The college model came from Washington state.
The pizza oven area, he said. will serve “as a showcase for our culinary students to actually cook as demonstration projects. We have a big high table there with chairs. The students can sit there and watch the meal being made for them.’’
Other dining areas on the Thunder Bay campus were renovated, including the Dorion Building, McIntyre Building and ACE.
“What we tried to do is give students in all those building more than what they had before,’’ said Backstrom.
“And when we sat down and did the contract with Sedexo, we laid out that we wanted to reinvest in these facilities as a part of that contract,” he said.