A student picks up food at the Southern Kitchen in the Nest, Wednesday. The Setzer Student Center will close in October for renovations, meaning students will have to dine elsewhere.

A student picks up food at the Southern Kitchen in the Nest, Wednesday. The Setzer Student Center will close in October for renovations, meaning students will have to dine elsewhere.

The Setzer Student Center will close in late October to begin renovations. The new design will modernize and open up the SSC while also bringing in new food concepts and franchises.

“The Setzer Center, to my understanding, has not gone through a major renovation since the 1980s,” Terry Mena, associate vice president and dean of students for Lamar’s Division of Student Engagement, said. “The building itself is actually three separate subsections. The main building, the center point where the Arbor is, that’s the original building. Over time, they’ve added on.

“If you’re in the Nest, that’s considered a new addition, and over by where the bookstore is, that’s another addition. So today, as you walk through the building you’re going to see a differentiation as you walk through the facility.”

Mena said that the renovation will open up the SSC and make it more cohesive.

“The renovations will add an additional 8,400 square feet of office space for administration and student organizations,” he said. “The renovations will take up to 18 months.”

Mena said that the only part that not closing down is the bookstore, as it has exterior entrances that will allow it to remain open.

“The renovations will add a new food service venue area — a food court that will be in what you currently know as the Ballroom,” he said. “That ballroom will be redesigned and repurposed to hold up to three food vendors.”

The franchises were chosen through a survey last year.

“We did 12 different focus groups and gave them a selection of eight different places, and came out with their top three,” Paul Parnell, director of dining services at Chartwells, said.

The top three were Chick-Fil-A, Panda Express and Jason’s Deli.

“All of that is not in stone yet, because you have to do franchise agreements, but that’s what we’re trying to do,” Parnell said. “I know students are going to miss Mirabeau’s and the Nest in particular.”

Neither the Nest nor Mirabeau’s will reopen.

Parnell said that alternative places for students to spend their dining dollars are slated to open around Oct. 17.

“One of the alternatives that we are looking at is putting our food truck in operation, and copying over the two most popular concepts in the Nest into the food truck — the Southern Kitchen and Sona, which is Mexican food,” he said. “We will be changing the menu every day, having a blue-plate special of the day, so that the popular things are still available.”

The food truck will most likely be parked outside Gray Library, and students will be able to use their declining balance. Parnell said he hopes to incorporate more food trucks soon.

“I think the food trucks will be fun, and I’m actually trying to get a couple other food trucks on campus a couple of days a week (from the community),” he said.

Other venues are also being considered.

“The private dining room (in the dining hall) will have a food concept in there,” Parnell said. “It will be used as a convenience store. You can pick up a bottle of water or whatever on your way to class.

“There will also be upscale, ready-to-eat products: cold sandwiches, salads, things like that. We are considering putting a wing concept in there, too.”

Parnell said they are looking at moving the juice bar inside the Sheila Umphrey Recreational Sports Center, towards the front door, so that it is more visible. They also plan to expand the options.

“We are also looking at putting a barbecue concept on the north side of the campus — somewhere in the nursing/chemistry/biology area, but it hasn’t been decided yet,” he said. “There’s a lot of traffic over there, but no food service, so we want to make it a little bit more convenient for students.”

Parnell said Chartwells is also in the process of putting a Starbucks in the library.

“The main thing we are trying to do is make sure that the students have a variety of places to spend their declining balance, and appealing places to spend them.” he said. “We are trying to be as proactive as we can to get things going.”

Stephanie DeMeyer

UP Contributor

Learn more about Lamar University at lamar.edu

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