The Wildcat Den dining location up-campus is expected to close for good in mid-August. There has been a 60% decrease in traffic since a majority of campus housing has shifted down-campus over the past year, according to Dining Services Marketing Manager Marina Dupler.
With the Den being closed next fall, Northern Lights Dining Hall could receive as much as a 10% increase in consumers.
“Staffing plans are in place to accommodate the anticipated uptick,” Dupler wrote in an email. “Our staffing plan does not call for the elimination of any positions, but rather a reallocation of existing resources and team talent.”
Currently, the kitchen attached to the Den prepares food for catering events on and off campus and prepares grab-and-go products, desserts, baked goods and more for other NMU dining outlets across campus. The kitchen will continue to prepare these items and cater events at the Northern Center.
A dining master plan was initiated in January 2017 which arranged for the Den to close and a new pub-style restaurant to resurface in the first floor of the current University Center, soon to be known as Northern Center after renovations.
“Though The Wildcat Den is closing, students living up-campus will still have a dining option,” Dupler wrote. “We’re excited about the new quick service restaurant that will be located on the first floor of the Northern Center. With a fresh menu and renovated surroundings, and the debut of the new meal swipe X-changes as part of the 2019-2020 meal plans, we feel students will find this to be a viable alternative to The Wildcat Den.”
Depending on the different dining plans available, students will have two to six X-changes per week that can be used at the restaurant. Dining dollars and Cat Ca$h can be used at the restaurant as well as cash and credit card.
Construction is anticipated to end in late August with the official opening of the restaurant to follow in the next couple weeks after, according to Dupler.
“The concept is on trend with what other universities are doing and much of the design, menu, and entertainment is based on input given during focus groups held in the past several years with students, faculty and staff,” Dupler wrote.
This new dining area will offer students, faculty and community members a place to gather with activities like pool tables, table top shuffleboard and darts. There will also be space for karaoke and live music.
“I feel like I’ll be a frequent flyer at this new restaurant,” freshman art and design major Branden Zann said.
The Dining Services team relies on student input when planning new operations and concepts, Dupler said.
“I am not detrimentally opposed to the Den closing, it was convenient but I feel like a new addition to the campus is always nice,” Zann said.
The two-year feat of renovations is scheduled to be completed this summer giving students a new hangout or study area to look forward to when returning to campus in the fall.