The BuzzWord On The Street

Cosgrove Cafeteria Renovations: Cool or Cause for Concern?

Above: The proposed renovations to the interior of the Cosgrove Cafeteria. Photo courtesy of Atlantic Culinary Environments.

The smell of a home-cooked meal is wafting through the air, and the hum of students chatting with their friends follows. Where is this coming from? The Cosgrove Cafeteria of course! Last updated in 2012, the Cosgrove Cafeteria is where SAU students gather to enjoy their breakfast, lunch, and dinner- and it is now next on the list of renovations.

Plans reveal this multi-million dollar renovation project will change the entire look of the dining hall by adding new flooring, seating, and dining options inside, as well as changing where the front entrance is located. The SAU campus community can expect new food options and a cozy hangout spot where they can do homework, or take a break with their friends.

Above: Proposed renovations to the exterior of Cosgrove Hall. Photo courtesy of Studio 483 Architects.

St. Ambrose students shared their feelings about this proposed renovation project, which broke ground in mid-March and will be finished by the time students arrive on campus in the fall.

Cafeteria Operations Manager, Tiffany Hayes, says she’s excited about the new change. “I have been working here with the same setup for 15 years so I am ready to see a change…We will have a fresh new modern look and feel.” Hayes noted that the proposed renovation will allow for many more students to dine, but in the meantime, no one will be dining in the cafeteria.

“During the remodel my staff and I will be working out of the Rogalski Center. It will just be a small adjustment in getting settled, comfortable, and acclimated to our temporary environment there.” Starting May 4, 2024, all food service will take place in the Rogalski Center while the interior of the cafeteria will be fully under construction.

SAU sophomore Hannah Dewitte expressed excitement and concern, “I like the idea of the new renovations at Cosgrove, and with the proposed photos that have been released, the renovated Cosgrove cafeteria looks like a great sociable and comfortable space to be in.” However, Dewitte went on to share her anxiety about life on campus while the construction is in progress, and how the second half of the semester will look for food service.

Sophomore Sofie Garcia agreed. “I think the timing is something of concern for me personally. I think additional communication about what to expect of these incoming changes is needed.” Despite this major change, Garcia said that overall, renovating the cafeteria is a great idea. “The proposed renovation photos look really nice and I think it will make campus more welcoming to incoming bees.”

The mixed feelings about the cafeteria renovations beginning construction during the school year extend to freshman Zoe Blair, a resident of the Cosgrove Hall dorms. “My first thought when looking at the photos was that the idea in mind was really cool,” Blair said, “From the photos, it looks like the cafeteria will be more organized instead of having tables scattered around. At the same time, as a resident of Cosgrove, I am not too excited about move-out day because it is going to be a lot more work for my parents and me if the front entrance is not open.”

Blair speaks to the fact that the front entrance to Cosgrove Hall will become inaccessible from March 14 on. The doors to the basement will be the only way in, creating some discomfort for building residents.

Many students also expressed excitement about the cafeteria’s new look. Sophomore Andrew Golimowski was one of them, comparing the interior design to that of the University of Northern Iowa’s dining halls.

“I think it’ll end up being an improvement on the current one, it kind of reminds me of UNI’s cafeteria just a bit smaller. It should provide a nicer dining atmosphere,” Golimowski said.

In contrast, junior Bailey Hird stressed this renovation is not what our campus needs right now, no matter how good the photos look. 

“I think the reno will be good, but it’s not the first thing that I think needed done on this campus to make it better…food quality needs to also improve.” 

Finally, the Cosgrove Cafeteria is one of the most important stops on the tour that every prospective student receives when visiting St. Ambrose. First-year admissions counselor, Olivia Ryan, commented on how the new look will affect the admissions process. 

“I believe the change will be great for our current and future students as it is at the heart of campus,” Ryan said, “Our students deserve the best and with this renovation, that is what they’ll be getting. 

“Future SAU students are always interested in life on campus and an updated dining facility on campus will be a beneficial crowd-pleaser during our tours with prospective students and their families. 

“I believe St. Ambrose is always trying to improve our campus, while also keeping the beautiful historical buildings and features of St. Ambrose alive and well. Best of both worlds!”

See more of the renovation project from SAU Weekly here.