The Summit

The Summit introduces a new, upgraded campus dining experience

Construction to improve and rebrand the Lees-McRae dining hall was recently completed, and the college held a grand opening event to celebrate the first meal served in the space.  

Students lined up outside the front doors, eager to get a glimpse despite having to stand in the rain. Shortly before 5 p.m., General Manager Tracy Mitchell opened the doors and began inviting students inside. When each student passed under the balloon arch—brought in specially for the occasion—they marveled as they took in the sight of the warm lighting, stone décor, and stylish seating that transformed their old dining hall into a space resembling a cozy mountain lodge.  

“Guys, this is your new home, your new kitchen,” Mitchell said to the students. “If there’s something you see or don’t see, if you want to change something, come talk to me or (Chef) John. That’s what we’re here for.”  

Mitchell has been instrumental in addressing student needs and concerns and creating a positive dining experience for everyone on campus. To thank her for her hard work, President Lee King presented Mitchell with a bouquet of flowers during the dinner.  

“Students, Tracy and Chef John love you,” said King as students chanted Tracy’s name in appreciation. “They want to make sure your experience is great, but I want to acknowledge them. Thank you for serving our students in the way that you’ve done.”  

To make the evening special for students, Lees-McRae and Aramark staff turned the meal into a celebration, complete with free T-shirts or cups for the first few hundred students, a raffle, and a “Surf and Turf” menu.  

In addition to the themed décor and seating, The Summit also has new food offerings for students, including a grain bar, a carving station, more plant-based entrees, handmade pizza dough, and a made-to-order panini press. Food options are displayed on updated digital menu boards, and the entrance includes another screen that can display important communications and promote upcoming events.  

Most of the seating is café style, supplemented with several booths and six custom-made community tables built by local furniture store Rustik out of reclaimed wood. The wood beams came from a former Cannon Knitting Mill in Concord, North Carolina and were donated by trustee Ken Haigler. Other changes to the space include a new front entrance and the addition of an accessible restroom.  

Scott Aebersold, a senior district marketing manager for Aramark who attended the grand opening, explained that these updates and additions were made to better emphasize health and wellness and provide more options for students.  

The Summit is open from 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Fridays,and 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on weekends. Starting Monday, Sept. 27, students can drop by from 8–10 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 7–9 p.m. Friday to pick up late-night favorites like burgers and quesadillas. Students can view upcoming menus on the Dining Services website. Faculty and staff can also eat at The Summit by adding Wily’s Bucks or a meal plan to their dining account.  

By Emily WebbSeptember 21, 2021
Campus Life