The Downunder Cafe gets a remodel, a new name

Photo courtesy of Nevada Dining

The Argenta Hall explosion on July 5, 2019 left the University of Nevada, Reno without one of its dining options, the Downunder Cafe — also known as DC. Since then, the DC has moved to its temporary location, The Den, but it’s set to change soon as Fall 2022 begins.

With the end of construction of Argenta Hall next year, a new and rebranded version of the DC will come to the university. Students will find a completely remodeled diner with many new nutritional supplements. The new name has not yet been decided.

The Nevada Sagebrush has published a photo gallery with computer renderings of the new room.

Dean Kennedy, executive director of Residential Life, Housing and Food Service, said Chartwells Higher Ed committed $6.9 million to build the new eateries. This is in addition to the $45 million going into the overall construction of Argenta.

There will be 12 new food stations in the eateries, as well as the addition of a “Student Pick” station.

“Students can vote on what they want to see in this cafeteria,” Kennedy said. “Examples can be Mediterranean dishes, Indian dishes and home cooking.”

There will also be 12 different cooking stations where students, faculty and staff can prepare their own food and hold cooking classes.

The C-Store will reopen with the dining room focusing on healthier options such as fresh fruit, vegetables and healthy snacks or meals to go. For students with dietary restrictions, there will be a retail option housing halal food in the convenience store.

Additionally, there will be a G8 station where all included foods omit the eight most common dietary restrictions: eggs, fish, shellfish, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, soybeans, and wheat.

The emphasis on healthy dining options on campus also includes the addition of an on-site nutritionist, whose office will be located in the common areas.

Photo courtesy of Nevada Dining

The Dietitian is available to any student who would like advice on their dietary needs.

According to Kennedy, Chartwell’s Higher Ed focuses on sustainability efforts that have been very difficult to implement in recent years due to COVID-19.

“… [A] Many of these have been put on hold because of COVID in the Den,” Kennedy said. “So going back to a permanent location, Chartwells will be able to easily reintegrate some more sustainability practices.”

These practices include working with Pack Provisions to allow students to donate their food strips to the program and donating leftover food to local food shelters.

As for the design of the building, there will be more windows and natural light, over 500 seating areas – that’s 100 more seats than the previous DC – and a hydroponics cabinet where students can grow their own culinary herbs.

“Because of what I’ve described in this area, we call it ‘the showcase of the West,'” Kennedy said. “This is going to be phenomenal.”

The opening of the facility is still planned for autumn 2022. After opening, the Den will no longer be in operation.

Emerson Drewes can be reached via email at edrewes@sagebrush.unr.edu or on Twitter @EmersonDrewes.

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