In this Oct. 21, 2014, file photo, students eat at Rathbone dining hall. Scenes like this one, however, will be rarer this semester as dining halls will be capped at 50 percent capacity due to the pandemic. (Maxim Beard/B&W Staff)

Rathbone to be renovated over the summer


Rathbone dining hall will be undergoing renovations over summer break.

The serving structure for the community grill, classics and simple servings stations will be reconfigured. These stations will be renovated so the flow and variety of food can be expanded.

The last major renovation to Rathbone was in 2005. Before this renovation, the serving structure was set up like a high school cafeteria or assembly line. Since then, the space has been opened up to allow for more flexibility.

David Joseph, the director of student auxiliary services, said at peak hours a line will run out the door of Rathbone because of the amount of students getting food from the classics station in the front. The simple servings station and more healthy options, such as vegetarian and allergy-free options, will be brought to the front of the dining hall, and the classics station will be moved deeper inside to drive the line inward.

“Currently, a lot of stuff is prepared in a kitchen down a level, and the chefs want to make more made-to-order food like the pizza and pasta,” Joseph said.

Executive chef Joe Kornafel, who has been at Lehigh since 2006, said that 70 to 80 percent of food is prepared in front of the students but that the renovation’s goal is to raise this amount to 90 percent. There will also be more variety, versatility and interaction with the chefs. Kornafel said the Rathbone staff is always looking at food trends to keep up and evolve for students.

“The students coming in nowadays are so much more in tune to what they’re eating,” Rathbone director Lauren Sleeger said.

Sleeger said the increase of made-to-order options will allow for more transparency and for students to feel confident in what they’re eating.

Another change will be the addition of an awning to the outside of Rathbone to cover students from rain when waiting outside. More seating and furniture will be added, and the exterior will receive some minor updates.

Joseph said minor renovations are made every summer, such as enlarging the pizza and pasta station or switching the locations of the breads and desserts. These changes are made with the intent of keeping up with trends and satisfying students’ needs.

Students who eat at Rathbone tend to take food from one station and combine it with something else at another, such as adding chicken to a salad. This is something the chefs and administration want to encourage.

“We love it when students hack the menu,” Sleeger said.

The Lehigh wrestling team recently helped the chefs pick the menu to gain weight for an upcoming meet. Staff at Rathbone think this was a success and said other groups might be able to select a menu in the future.

Rathbone has a capacity of 384 seats and is full during peak hours. While there are no permanent plans in place for this expansion, an architect has come to survey Rathbone. An expansion would double the amount of students to about 650 or 700 seats.

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