Ray Revamps Over the Summer with Redone Stations and Color Scheme
by Hannah Langley ’21
Coming back to Providence College this year, many returning students were shocked and confused by the multiple changes Raymond Dining Hall had made to its décor and service stations.
Stuart Gerhardt, general manager of Ray, explained that these changes were long overdue. Gerhardt has been working as Ray’s general manager for eight years now, and noted that this was the first renovation the building has seen since his coming here. “The colors were old and tired,” Gerhardt said. “We want to keep the facilities fresh… something that gives you a ‘wow’ factor.”
To help with the redesigning, PC hired a design build company which specialized in researching trends and preferences across various college campuses through statistics, surveys, and observations. “It’s about being proactive and looking at trends,” said Gerhardt.
Among the several changes made to Ray, one of the most noticeable and prominent is the change of color scheme inside. The walls and pillars, which were once simply white and black, are now a vibrant green and yellow. Gerhardt talked about the colors, saying he was skeptical about the change at first, as well. “When the green first went up, I kind of went ‘Oh no,’” he noted, “but you get used to it, and it does what it needs to do. It brightens the space and grows on you in a positive way.”
Another change was the addition of icons on the entrance windows and above each of the stations. “Today everything is based on an icon,” Gerhardt explained, “instead of words we switched to icons that make sense” in regards to the food served.
Another prominent change was the removal of the “theme station.” Gerhardt explained that the station was taken away in an effort to reduce lines and maximize space. “We wanted to look at the overall flow of the space,” Gerhardt noted, “and the easiest thing to do was eliminate theme and open up the area.” The decision, according to Gerhardt, has made other stations much more accessible.
Gerhardt also emphasized the point that the dishes typically served at the Theme Station have not been completely eliminated from Ray’s menu. “We eliminated the station, but we didn’t eliminate the items,” Gerhardt reassured. Gerhardt said that once the first few weeks of school are over and the freshmen get acclimated to the school, favorites, such as the mashed potato bar, will be reintroduced to the menu at different stations.
The vegetarian station, which is now the comfort station, is operating under a similar idea. “What we took away from the vegetarian station is still accessible,” Gerhardt noted.
One idea Gerhardt wanted to focus on was the fact that while certain items may no longer be on the menu as frequently, students are still more than welcome to create their own dishes and meals with what is available to them. “Sometimes students need to have a little bit of creativity,” said Gerhardt. He continued, saying, “Students should look at what’s available at each station to create what they want.” For example, Gerhardt pointed out that an extra panini grill has been added near the condiment station so that students can create their own sandwiches and paninis without having to wait in line. “You need to be creative in your own way,” Gerhardt said.
Another point that Gerhardt wanted to make is that while this is the first renovation in many years in Ray, it will not be the last. He talked about how the plan for Ray’s future includes renovations if not every semester, every year, so that the space does not become outdated. “By renovating over an extended period of time, we will be able to keep the ‘wow’ factor,” Gerhardt commented, “and add new things to replace things that didn’t work so well.” For the future, Gerhardt sees the beverage stations being reorganized to make things fresher and more accessible.
Gerhardt understands that change can be difficult for everyone. “What’s different for current students isn’t new for incoming students,” Gerhardt explained. “We do things because we’re looking for positive impact. We’re always trying to improve.”
Students should continue to look for future changes in Ray during the coming years.