Mac’s Place to close for renovations

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The renovated Mac’s Place will replace indoor seating with an outdoor patio for dinning and grilling which will face the pedestrian mall, a walkway from Daniel Street to Mockingbird Lane.Photo credit: Ellen Smith

Beginning March 8, immediately after students leave for spring break, Mac’s Place will close and undergo remodeling.

Construction on campus seems to be never ending, but SMU’s vision for a residential commons philosophy has driven many exciting projects including the upcoming renovation of Mac’s Place and a pedestrian mall connecting Daniel Street with Mockingbird Lane.

The new and improved Mac’s Place will include an outdoor grilling and patio space with ample seating, a larger market with convenience store items, larger to-go menu options and a more convenient entrance.

In campus dining services surveys, students reported a desire for more technology and convenience in Mac’s Place. The renovation will now offer a touch screen ordering system, a mobile ordering system in the future and an emphasis on the P.O.D. concept that stands for provisions on demand.

Dining Administration’s Marketing Manager Jennifer Chang said students enjoy how the dining experience at Mac’s Place specializes in to-go options for quick meals or snacks in a hurry.

Chang said the renovation will “capitalize on the grab ‘n go” concept by implementing the P.O.D. model that has proven successful in the Bonelli at SMU’s Meadows School of the Arts.

This means the store will offer a larger to-go menu, more emphasis on a made-to-order grill menu, a pizza bar, fresh produce options, a salad bar and convenience store items. All of which students can purchase and either take to go or eat outside on the patio.

There will no longer be seating indoors in order to make room for this expansion of new features.

The new renovation proves Mac’s Place will be especially appealing to students in a rush. The anticipated mobile ordering system will be joined to student Flex and Pony Dollar accounts for even more convenience.

The walkway from Daniel Street to the back side of Hughes-Trigg Student Center will be extended to Mockingbird Lane through campus. This extended walkway is being referred to as SMU’s pedestrian mall.

One of the first new features of this walkway will be the new Mac’s Place entrance. Essentially, Mac’s Place is getting turned around to face what is currently the parking lot behind McElvaney residence hall but what will become a key feature of the pedestrian mall.

Associate Vice President of Campus Services Julie Wiksten explained this idea: “With it opening onto the pedestrian mall, it will make it easily accessible for students walking from the new residence halls as students in the same quad and anywhere on campus. We also anticipate it being attractive on game days as attendees make their way to Ford Stadium.”

The idea is to better serve students so that the community of SMU feels more closely tied together. With Mac’s Place spilling onto the pedestrian mall, everyone can access the new dining service easily.

As well as Mac’s Place becoming a game day attraction, outdoor seating will make the new dining service and walkway more unique and appealing.

Outdoor seating is very limited on campus with only the patio on the ground floor of Hughes-Trigg Student Center and park benches around campus as current options. Mac’s Place is anticipated to be an attractive location for days when the weather allows for outdoor dining enjoyment.

Seating on the pedestrian mall also furthers SMU’s vision for a residential commons philosophy since it will be on the path students will use to walk from the Hughes-Trigg Student Center to the new residence halls.

While Mac’s Place is closed for the exciting renovations ahead, RFoC at Umphrey Lee will be extending hours until midnight with choices from the grill, salad bar and pizza bar as available late night options. RFoC at Umphrey Lee will also be offering some convenience store items.

Campus Services is funding the complete renovation while McElvaney Hall also undergoes construction. The residence hall will be adding faculty-in-residence apartments and classroom space.

Student residents of the dorm will remain in McElvaney during the time period of construction for both re-modeling projects.

These additions to the McElvaney residence hall created a need for additional square footage. Chang said they were happy to work in tandem with the McElvaney remodelling project by giving up square footage in Mac’s Place.

The new and renovated Mac’s Place is expected to be complete by the fall of 2014 but Campus Services is unable to announce an expected opening date until re-modeling has picked up speed.

SMU’s vision continues to be reflected by the many changes on campus in the past year: the new sophomore dorms opening August 2014, the new women’s clothing boutique, Douleur, located in Hughes-Trigg, the renovation of the pedestrian mall and now a new and improved Mac’s Place.

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