UCI Hospitality & Dining announced on May 1 that the Brandywine Commons and Recreation Center is closing its doors after the spring 2017 quarter, and will be replaced by a new dining hall and residential area.
Brandywine Commons, located in the Middle Earth housing community, has been at UCI for 40 years and is one of the three all-you-can-eat dining halls on campus. The anticipated new dining hall is part of the Middle Earth Expansion, which will also include two residential towers with about 500 beds and a community space. The project is expected to offset the student housing shortage caused by increased undergraduate enrollment at UC Irvine.
After UCI Hospitality & Dining released the news of Brandywine’s expected closure, students took to social media to express their thoughts on the closing. “RIP Brandywine,” said one Instagram commenter. “Many good lunches there while at UC Irvine thanks Brandywine,” another alum posted on Twitter.
J.J. Hsu, a second-year computer science major who has been working at Brandywine since winter quarter of last year, was also upset at the news.
“I think that it is a bit sad that Brandywine will be closing because it has been a part of UC Irvine for so long. A lot of people’s memories have been there, especially late nights,” said Hsu. “A new dining hall sounds nice though but sometimes having a bit of the old with new is good.”
UCI Hospitality & Dining Interim Director Lin Tang assures students that operational hours of the new dining hall will remain the same, and will include late night hours. A name for the new facility has not yet been decided.
Tang confirmed that Hsu and his coworkers will not lose their jobs, as current Brandywine employees will be transferred to Pippins, the Anteatery or other dining retail locations on campus.
“We will make every effort to keep our employees employed within Hospitality & Dining Services,” said Tang. “With over 25 dining locations on campus, we would be able to accommodate our employees.”
Hospitality & Dining will host a Brandywine Farewell Celebration during week 10 that will include karaoke and a range of favorite Brandywine dishes. A survey is available for students past and present to vote on which dishes they’d like to see featured. Choices listed are California bowls, churros, build-your-own mac and cheese, spam musubi, sundried tomato grilled cheese and tomato soup, California rolls, tater tots, curly fries, frozen yogurt, Nutella banana crepes, quesadillas and tacos. Renderings of the new building will also be exhibited inside Brandywine for students to see.
Construction on the project commences after residents move out in June and is expected to conclude by fall 2019.