Johnny’s renovations to include additional seating, improved atmosphere

photo by Michael Hsu
photo by Michael Hsu

Student senate voted last Tuesday in favor of renovating the hallway behind Johnny’s with the addition of a bar-style seating area.

“The biggest student need is seating,” said junior Ashley Moore, the senate coordinator for the project. “If someone is taking up three seats by sitting alone at a table during a busy time, there’s a problem.”

During “rush hours” such as chapel break and lunchtime, the couches, booths and tables currently available in Johnny’s Cafe are unable to accommodate all of the students and faculty who need a place to meet, talk, study and eat. This space is of particular importance to commuters who need somewhere to go between classes, practices and meetings.

Moore has been working with Dean Gunnink, assistant director of the physical plant, who is in charge of designing the renovations.

The renovations will be centered on the hallway behind Johnny’s and will include a bar-style countertop and chairs, as well as a more aesthetically pleasing atmosphere. Moore reported that students expressed interest in redesigning the hallway by improving the lighting and showcasing student artwork.

According to Jerry Grieser, a sophomore student senator, the project began to unfold last summer when students “identified a need for another on-campus study space with extended hours.” After examining existing spaces on campus, student senate settled on Johnny’s as the most promising candidate for developing this space.

By focusing their efforts on Johnny’s, student senate is catalyzing renovations that have long been in the brainstorming phase for both the Campus Culture Cluster and the Physical Plant (see article).

During Interim, student senate received student suggestions for the improvements via suggestion forms. The most viable ideas were selected and presented to the student body for sticker voting from Jan. 20-24.

The top three student-chosen renovations were increasing the seating capacity, redoing the Johnny’s hallway and displaying student artwork.

The new seating is “not a place for intimate conversations,” stated Moore. Rather, it is designed for students who only have a few minutes between classes to eat lunch, read the paper or print an assignment. According to Moore, “the purpose is to be a different option, a resource for commuters during rush hour. Most people will choose a booth over [the new seating], but it’s meant to be used when there is a need.”

The other need the renovations hope to address is a more aesthetic space.

“Better carpet, better lighting will make things a lot nicer in [Johnny’s],” said Grieser.

Johnny’s has the only public bathroom on campus that is open on Sundays; as a result, the back hallway of Johnny’s often contributes to visitors’ impressions of Calvin.

Student senate hopes to enhance the overall look and feel of Johnny’s by redesigning the hallway so that it has “a better presentation, visual effect,” a factor especially important when tours of prospective students are traipsing through the cafe every Friday and gauging the overall feel of the campus.

The project has a few more hoops to jump through, including getting the facilities task force on board, but Moore is optimistic that the renovations will be completed quickly.

“Our goal is to have it done by the end of spring break.”

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