Emma Hoarty / Staff Photographer

Okenshields and Ivy Room are back in full action on November 6th, 2017.

November 8, 2017

Okenshields, Ivy Room Kitchens Reopen After Renovation Project

Print More

Renovations at Okenshields and Ivy Room — two popular eateries on central campus — were finally completed last week, putting their kitchens back in operation Monday.

From the outside, students will not see much of a difference from before. They did not renovate their music selection. However, they are now able to enjoy fresher food prepared on-site.

While the kitchens in both dining halls had been closed for much of this semester, food prepared at other campus eateries was transported to Willard Straight throughout the day, allowing students to continue eating there, said Dustin Cutler, Cornell Dining director.

To meet demands, cooks at Robert Purcell Community Center and Trillium had to prepare unprecedented amounts of food to be transported in carts and boxes.

“It’s been a seamless success that has hardly raised an eyebrow from those who are enjoying these meals,” Cutler said.

As expected, certain adjustments were needed to keep Okenshields and the Ivy Room up and running. For example, the Ivy League-inspired food court had to be slightly pared down. The kitchen staff also had to do more work and take on alternate shifts at different locations during the renovation, said Mark Anbinder, web communications manager for Cornell Campus Life Marketing and Communication.

Inoperable kitchens also meant that the dining halls had to serve grab-n-go food and Wegmans Sushi and provide disposable utensils and plates.

While the renovation process was demanding, dining hall staff ensured the constructions did not inconvenience students using the dining halls.

“Most of the people who ate with us this semester didn’t know the food was coming across campus before they got to eat it, and that’s a credit to how smoothly our staff pulled this off,” said Anthony Cecala, operations manager for Central Campus Dining. “I’m really grateful that they rose to this huge challenge so well.”

During the renovation, which started in June, contractors replaced old kitchen hoods, fire suppression systems and ductwork with safer and more efficient facilities, Anbinder said.

While construction was originally scheduled to be completed in mid-August, renovations were further delayed as Cornell waited for final approval from City of Ithaca authorities, Anbinder said.

Before the kitchen reopened, the dining team deep-cleansed storage spaces and cooking surfaces, adjusted the equipment layout in Ivy Room and restocked all the food and products, he said.

With the renovations completed and kitchens back in operation, Cornell Dining administrators said students should expect new menus by early January.