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Walker Dining Services to Close, Relocate to Stata Center Facility

By Tongyan Lin

Dining services in Walker Memorial will close early next year and new dining facilities will open in the Stata Center.

The area used for Walker’s lunch service will be converted to “a catering venue for events,” said Richard D. Berlin III, director of Campus Dining. The key focus of the area is to use it for events for “student banquets” or “VIP dinners.”

Berlin said that “hopefully the transition takes place over break and IAP [Independent Activities Period].”

The traffic at Walker Dining has been declining in the past few years, Steve Porter, general manager of MIT Community Dining, said. Moreover, Walker “is not really central to the rest of campus as Stata will be.”

Porter also said there were problems with temperature control in the summer.

Berlin expects the Stata Center to draw a large portion of the population because “academic and research activity is going into Stata.”

Berlin said that Campus Dining cannot financially support food services in both Walker and the Stata Center for lunch.

Pritchett to remain open

Pritchett Grill, on the second floor of Walker Memorial, will remain open. “We invested a lot of equipment,” Porter said. “We’re going to enhance that.”

There “needs to be a viable dining option” in East Campus, said Porter. Sodexho, the current contractor that manages Walker dining, is currently working on more improvements for Pritchett Grill.

Berlin said he plans to organize a student committee to focus on Pritchett and how it can serve East Campus better.

Stata Center to provide dining

The new facilities at the Stata Center will include a large dining area on the first floor as well as many other areas to eat outside and around the building.

Sodexho will manage Stata dining when it opens, Berlin said. The central dining area will include a cafÉ, a sushi bar, grab-and-go food, a stone pizza oven, a deli/soup bar, and a lunch menu. Berlin said that the dining options will differ from the fare offered at the Student Center. The Stata Center may also include a Starbucks, Berlin said.

He added that the Stata Center has “a lot of very versatile technology” that would allow more menu options. The dining area will hold about 200 people.

Sections of Stata dining will have early breakfast hours and extended hours into the early evening.

EC residents hope to use Walker

Maria C. Schriver ’05, the Undergraduate Association Senate representative from East Campus, said EC residents are looking into several possibilities for taking advantage of the new space in Walker.

“Walker will open up a lot of free space,” she said.

Berlin said that this change “adds dynamic to the East Campus area.”

Schriver said possibilities include outside vendors, furnishing different areas to be used as study spaces, or creating a community kitchen in the basement of the building.

However, renovations are also be necessary. The last major renovation occurred in 1916, and Schriver said that a recent committee estimated the cost of renovation at $50 million.