A new spin on meal plans

Iowa Central Community College’s Triton Cafe opened its doors in October after more than a year of construction.

The college’s new $7 million cafeteria was built out of necessity, Dan Kinney, Iowa Central president, said.

Originally, the cafeteria was at its two apartment buildings, now Woodruff Towers, before moving to the college’s Hanson Center.

“We had built a cafeteria that was really set up for about 500,” Kinney said. “The problem is, we really went past that.”

Iowa Central can now house as many as 1,200 students.

“We could get into other areas and expanding seating, but it was the kitchen itself,” Kinney said. “You have a kitchen built for 500, feeding over 1,000 students. So we knew we needed to do something to kind of get up to date.”

Triton Cafe is a modern-style cafeteria, Kinney said, with “pod feeding,” featuring specialized areas for pizza, a sandwich bar, desserts, salad bar or traditional meal service.

“We really weren’t able to do that over there. We just didn’t have the space to do that,” Kinney said. “It finally came to, we’ve got these students, especially when the Woodruff family donated back what is now Woodruff Towers, we knew we needed to expand our food service at the same time.”

The new facility is designed to be expanded in the future, if necessary, Kinney said.

“We’re going to be able to serve well over 2,000 students if we ever really need to get there,” he said. “We built it large enough for further expansion down the road so we wouldn’t outgrow it like we did the old cafeteria we had. But we also want to provide that dining element that really satisfied students.”

Triton Cafe, Kinney said, is also an opportunity for the college to save on catering expenses.

“We would have a lot of meetings on campus, but we really didn’t have a room within our previous dining facility to have lunches. We had to do a lot of catering,” he said. “This allows us to go over there. If I’ve got 10 people coming in for a meeting, we can take them over there, grab our food, go in there and meet.”

According to Kinney, Iowa Central’s students enjoy the variety offered by the cafeteria.

“Overall, the satisfaction, just talking with the students, it’s been outstanding,” he said. “It wasn’t that we had bad food before, we just couldn’t get the quantities out there. And to expand and to have a little bit more variety was so difficult out of our previous kitchen.”

Kinney said he, too, enjoys Triton Cafe.

“It’s a beautiful facility, well-lit,” he said. “It’s just so welcoming.”