Friends, food and fun. Some the best memories start with these three ingredients, especially for college students, and they can find all three in a new dining spot in the university center.
Thanks to a generous gift from Elaine Johnson Wold, a bright, contemporary casual dining space nestles in the northwest corner of the first floor. Elaine’s provides a place for students to gather, eat together and attend events and entertainment.
“It’s warm and welcoming. It was designed to be a home away from home for students,” said Cliff Bollmann, former project manager for Gensler, the building's architect.
It's also a convenient spot for students to eat during the day, with seating for over 150 people at cozy cafe tables for four, or larger groups may choose to sit where tables have been pushed together to create rectangular dining surfaces for eight. A few tables for two encourage one-on-one conversation.
In addition, Elaine’s patio is a beautiful spot for al fresco dining and conversations.
Elaine’s design incorporates a small stage at one end and glass doors to let event organizers enclose the area (while allowing passersbys a peek at the excitement within).
In the evening or during off-hours, student groups can reserve the space for events. Student involvement staff organize entertainment there as well.
“I’m excited about the dedication of the university center and about the opening of Elaine’s,” Mrs. Wold said. “The entire space will provide energy, fellowship and fun along with great food for all students, staff and guests.”
Students take center stage
Elaine’s is more than another new dining spot on campus. With plenty of seating and a small stage, it’s the perfect spot for student-centered entertainment and events.
The stage, which supports additional seating by day, transforms at night to the focal point of the venue. Its 18-inch elevation provides good visibility while maintaining a close proximity to create a sense of intimacy for the audience.
“Any of our student groups can request to use space on campus,” said Jaclyn Kuwik, assistant director of student involvement. “I know a number of our organizations are eager to use the space, and we may even find that having the space available will inspire new groups to form.”
An improv club, for example, would find the setup just right for audience involvement and response.
“We will be holding open-mic nights and musical evenings,” Kuwik said. “We may bring in a hypnotist or a magician—whatever appeals to our students.”
A dining space that converts to an entertainment venue is the perfect gift to campus from Elaine Johnson Wold, whose generosity made the Keith C. and Elaine Johnson Wold Performing Arts Center possible, and whose warmhearted spirit and sense of fun support “Elaine’s Annual Musical Treat,” a staged concert production of a beloved musical.