The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs upped its dining game when the school opened its newest dining hall, Roaring Fork. Located at the north end of campus near new two brand-new residence halls, Roaring Fork is home to a series of micro-restaurant concepts as well as a convenience store.
Named after the Colorado River—which inspired part of the dining hall’s floor design—Roaring Fork seats approximately 500 students and includes both a catering kitchen and a bakery.
“The initial goal was to expand capacity,” says Mark Hayes, director of dining and food services. “Our main dining hall, The Lodge [which is currently under renovation], only seats about 250 students. With our residential population growing at its current pace, we needed to create more dining options.”
In addition to expanded seating, Roaring Fork also provided an opportunity for UCCS to extend its wellness model and consolidate it counseling services, health services, dining and nutrition services under one roof so that the three groups could work more collaboratively. “After we looked at capacity, we looked at collaboration,” Hayes says.
The finished building, which opened to students in March, has windows on three sides and is two stories tall. Its outdoor deck faces Pike’s Peak.
Roaring Fork Dining Hall, which cost $15 million and took about a year to construct, is in the final stages of LEED gold certification. Its exterior incorporates much of Colorado’s natural elements like wood and stone.
The modern facility has a dedicated allergen station, the ability to prepare all styles of food, more seating, a dedicated bakery operation, a dedicated catering kitchen (UCCS does over 2,000 catered events each year) as well as additional meeting space room for handling future population growth
Located at the north end of campus in, Roaring Fork Dining Hall offers an exciting and delicious dining experience with Pike’s Peak as a backdrop.
Inside Roaring Fork, there is a terrazzo floor with a depiction of the Roaring Fork River, a tributary of the Colorado River that is approximately 70 miles long and runs through west central Colorado
“The interior has a very open flow,” says Mark Hayes, director of dining and food services. “We face west, so we get to see the sunset from 6,000 feet. The design is very modern and clean. It’s well lit and definitely has some of the best views of any dining hall in the country.”
Students can look out over Alpine Recreational Field, which sits on the roof of a four-story parking garage and features two open-air artificial turf fields. UCCS students can also sit on the second-story patio and enjoy unmatched views of Pike’s Peak.
Roaring Fork features a number of different micro-restaurant concepts that were built to evolve and flex as dining trends change.
“The stations were designed structurally and visually to be very flexible,” Hayes says.
“We have a Kitchen Table concept that features more home-style cuisine, but it’s not just mac and cheese,” Hayes says. “We’ve incorporated lots of local proteins here and we’re moving toward antibiotic-free poultry and beef. This station will allow us to feature that type of food.”
Beyond incredible views, and comfortable chairs, food is the focus at Roaring Fork. Dishes are presented in attractive vessels and refreshed frequently.
Inside the servery, Roaring Fork features the following stations:
• World Plates (a global concept) with a Tandoor oven;
• Hearthstone (a pizza station) with a wood-stone pizza oven;
• Garden of the Greens (a large deli and salad bar);
• Kitchen Table (a home-style, comfort foods station);
• Simple and Fresh (an allergen-free station);
• Frying Pan Grill (a grill, sandwiches, rotisserie and smoker station); and
• Crunch (a large cereal station).
“We designed the servery to be very open, so that there is no real back of house,” Hayes says. “Everything is visible with an open kitchen design. So there’s an element of interaction between the students and the chefs that’s really important. It allows for students to customize their meals as their tastes change and evolve.”
Roaring Fork is designed to draw people into the food and the kitchen. “Students gather here and create a community with beautiful views and delicious food,” Hayes says.