Michigan State University (MSU) Culinary Services has been awarded silver in the residential dining concept category from the National Association of College and University Food Services (NACUFS) for The Edge at Akers.
Named for a NACUFS founder, past president, and highly regarded visionary, the Loyal E. Horton Dining Awards celebrate exemplary menus, presentations, special event planning and new dining concepts. More than 80 colleges and universities across North America submitted entries in six categories.
The Edge at Akers was the last of seven major renovations completed at MSU from 2009 through 2015, bringing parity to all campus neighborhoods. “Unique equipment, a well-executed design and authentic cuisine have transitioned Akers into a popular destination on campus,” said Guy Procopio, director of Culinary Services. “I’m proud of what our team has accomplished, and it’s an honor to be recognized by our peers for the innovation and commitment that went into this project.”
After eight months of transformation, The Edge at Akers reopened its doors in January 2015. With distinctive food venues, bold colors, captivating signs and architectural diversity, The Edge quickly became a must-visit location for students, faculty, staff and the East Lansing community.
The facility features six entrée venue stations serving authentic Indian and Asian dishes, smoker-style meats and grill items, custom sub and deli sandwiches, pizza and pasta bakes, desserts and more. “Our student body is, of course, very diverse,” shared Jason Strotheide, executive chef. “Many people come to us with advanced knowledge of food from their own life experiences, while some are still coming of age, so to speak. We do our best to make sure that we have a little something for everyone and continually adapt our services to meet those unexpected challenges that occasionally come our way.”
Finishes in the dining hall include natural wood and natural stone mixed with white counters and white platform facings, colorful seating combinations in both padded and hard surfaces, and large-scale branded illuminated venue signs. Akers has featured a dining hall since it opened in 1964, however, its transformation into The Edge required crews to clear out and reconstruct the existing space.
“It took a large magnitude of collaboration to take a dining hall that had been underutilized by our students and to reimagine it as a gathering space for the entire university community,” shared Brenda Nelson, dining complex manager for MSU’s East Neighborhood. “By leading with food, we have been very successful. I recall a student at Holmes Hall sharing with me that they were not going to cross Shaw Lane to eat at the renovated Akers. Then, a week after it opened, I saw them there. The Edge has truly brought a new sense of community to east campus.”
As part of the university’s commitment to sustainability, The Edge at Akers is a trayless dining hall. In addition, subtle services enhance the dining experience for guests, who can enjoy breakfast until 2 p.m. during fall and spring semesters, cookies baked in-house daily, traditional naan bread made in two tandoori ovens, a freshly toasted bun for grill items and other personalized details.
The renewed halls also embrace MSU’s core values focused on quality, inclusiveness and connectivity. “Completing the Dining Master Plan is truly a success story,” said Vennie Gore, vice president for auxiliary enterprises for the MSU Division of Residential and Hospitality Services. “The accomplishment is even more substantial because it extends beyond dining; these renovated halls have created environments in which students connect with their professors and peers. This contributes to the academic success of our students by nourishing their minds and bodies in an active, diverse social setting.”
Culinary Services is a department within the Division of Residential and Hospitality Services at Michigan State University. For more information, visit eatatstate.com, like Eat at State on Facebook and follow @eatatstate on Twitter.