Reduced menu, sack lunches replace buffet as J2 enters final phase of renovation

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Food prep Scarleth Gomez hands a bag of cookies to a diner as part of Jester Second floor dining hall’s “grab ‘n go”  initiative while it undergoes renovation. 

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

Students hoping to find the usual variety of pizzas, burgers, salads and desserts at the Jester Second Floor dining hall Monday had to settle for a construction zone and sack lunches instead.

Monday marked the first day of J2’s final phase of renovations, which will require all of the normal dining options to be reduced to a limited menu. In place of the normal unlimited buffet of food and drinks, students will be offered “grab ‘n go” meals, essentially sack lunches, for a reduced price. J2 is expected to return to its normal operating level by the beginning of the spring semester.

The most recent work on J2 is the fourth and final phase in a project with an estimated cost of more than $14 million, Scott Meyer, director of food service, said.

“J2 renovation started six years ago with student-driven committees and evolved to a work in progress,” Meyer said. “The last phase is the toughest as it encompasses the core section of the floor — all the utilities and two elevators needed to be worked around.”

Some students hoping to dine at J2 on Monday decided to try other options after learning of the reduced menu. One of those students, undeclared freshman Elizabeth Schroeder, said the renovations and limited menu will require her to spend more money.

“It’s a total bummer because I eat here every lunch and dinner pretty much Monday through Friday,” Schroeder said. “I’m going to have to go eat in [Jester City Limits] and waste a bunch of money.”

Others, including radio-television-film freshman Christian Chanter, said the renovations are an inconvenience, but do not plan on avoiding J2 entirely.

“I actually wasn’t expecting this, but it’s still cheaper than JCL,” Chanter said. “So you get a complete meal and you still pay like half the price of JCL so it’s still worth it to me.”

Meyer said the renovations should not cause students to pay more. Instead, Meyer said, the prepackaged meals costs $2.95 each for students using Dine In Dollars, less than normal J2 prices.

Students living on campus are allocated $1,400 in Dine In Dollars for the school year to spend at dining halls.

“I would expect a good number of students will save and not spend more,” Meyer said.

Meyer said students who want an unlimited buffet can still eat at the Kinsolving dining hall.

Aside from the impact on dining options, students living in and around Jester can expect to see and hear more construction through the remainder of the semester. Until the end of finals, construction is set to take place only after 10 p.m., Meyer said.

Printed on Tuesday, November 27, 2012 as: J2 renovation limits menu