If you’ve been on campus near the Human Environmental Sciences building this summer, you may have noticed workers in hard hats and various construction vehicles. Behind all of the noise and “No Trespassing” signs, UCO’s student run café and food management kitchen have been getting a much-needed facelift!
First opened in 2001, Central Station provides students in the nutrition and food science program a chance to gain firsthand experience working in a commercial-style kitchen and restaurant. The café is a hit on campus, often a favorite lunch spot of faculty and staff members, but was in serious need of safety and design updates due to its age and lack of new equipment.
Since April, workers have completed a full renovation of the food preparation kitchen and lab that accompanies the café, installing new hood ventilation systems, commercial-grade ovens and stoves, and completely redesigning the food preparation space with movable, stainless steel islands and ceiling electrical outlet extensions. A finished product that bares almost no resemblance to the old kitchen – a space that was nearly fifty years old.
“Probably the most important benefit of this renovation was making the food labs safe for the students who use them, but also the safety of all students, staff and faculty using the HES building,” said Susan Woods, Ph.D., assistant professor and coordinator of Central Station.
“The lab has gone from looking like your grandma’s kitchen to looking like a restaurant kitchen – stainless steel and commercial hoods over all cooking equipment. Now, students will be able to graduate from UCO, become a food service director, and have an appropriate example in mind of how food service should run.”
And, the project is only halfway done. In February, the full restaurant side of the renovation will be completed, giving both spaces much safer and newer designs. This fall, five courses will be held in the kitchen, one of which will be Central Station running as a to-go restaurant. A kiosk will be open Tuesdays and Thursdays on the north end of the HES building in the hallway near the stairs. Guests can order via firstname.lastname@example.org, call (405) 974-5506, or order at the kiosk. Delivery options on campus are also available. For more information about Central Station and to view the upcoming menu, visit the café’s website.