Centered at the heart of campus, the new and improved Trojan Café serves not only as a fresh addition to the architectural portfolio at UA Little Rock but as a hub for students, faculty and guests to intermingle and share a safe, enriching space.
The concept of a renovated Trojan Café began in July 2017, under the provision of the Area General Manager, Douglas Britt.
“As part of our proposal that was put together for the university, [we wanted] to bring up the quality of the facilities, make it a more desirable place–especially from a recruiting and retention point of view–and we wanted to provide a portion of our capital and expertise,” Britt said. “We wanted to come in and redesign the space to be more user-friendly and enjoyable for [the students].”
Throughout the duration of the project, there were deviations from the original vision of the cafeteria.
“[The blueprint] morphed a few different times as we were trying to cater to our needs,” Britt said. “We needed additional storage for the University [staff] and the students needed a larger meeting space. As we moved toward an All-You-Care-To-Eat program, we had to do some structural changes to the facility to make it work.”
While the labor of the project’s construction was ironed out by Britt and his team, the on-going perfection of the Trojan Cafe belongs to each sect at the university.
“The thing about these types of projects is, you have to take suggestions and direction from all of your end-users,” Britt said. “You need to understand what people want by having these conversations about what are the things our constituents need.”
Britt doesn’t want to stop the improvement of Campus Dining now that the facility is finished; he still has a broader and more inclusive vision for the UA Little Rock.
“We’re putting together a dining committee that is going to have representatives from our international students, resident students, commuter students and the faculty and staff, so that we can get together a couple of times during the semester. That input is extremely important to us because that helps us to serve you better.”
Alongside the structural advantages of the new café, Britt implemented a new attitude for the staff to enhance the spirit of the atmosphere.
“In my personal opinion, ‘customer’ is a dirty word,” Britt said. “‘Customer’ is very impersonal. A customer pays for a service, but it wasn’t anything exceptional. If you had your mom or your grandmother come to your house, you’d want to make sure it was clean, you’d want them to enjoy the food, to want to come back. I’ve tried to create a guest experience for our students. If we treat people the way we would treat guests in our own homes, then the level of service is inherently going to go up. People are going to feel good about being in the space.”