ECU News Services

Croatan 1 
Raul Giral-Megia applies putty to drywall in the large, open stairway near one of the entrance areas of the new Croatan dining facility on ECU’s campus. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

Updated food venues, new options coming to campus

By Jeannine Manning Hutson

The Croatan that East Carolina University alumni remember is no more. In its location, a new Croatan has taken shape and is on track to open in January. Workers were busy last week putting up sheetrock, preparing to lay the tile flooring and begin the finish work.

The project aims to meet students’ tastes and the need for more dining options throughout campus as the student population grows. Demolition of the Croatan began in June 2009.

A Starbucks is among the new offerings near the Wright Place on campus.
The new Croatan will house two foodservice offerings: Chili’s Too and an expanded, full-service Chick-fil-A. Private and public dining areas will be available on the first floor; the second floor will house Chili’s Too, where customers can order at a counter and dine in a restaurant seating area. There will also be a private dining area upstairs that can be reserved by faculty, staff or students.

The structure will also be the first LEED-certified building on campus. LEED ratings measure the environmental sustainability of a building. Special lighting, water cisterns in the courtyard and ecologically friendly landscaping are planned. The contractor for the project is Rodgers Builders from Charlotte.

“It is going really, really well,” said Gina Shoemaker, interim assistant director for ECU engineering and architectural services. “One interesting component of this project is that the bricks on the outside of the building are reclaimed bricks from a demolished N.C. tobacco warehouse. That is part of the LEED accreditation, and they are a great addition.”

Shoemaker noted this was one of the first from-the-ground-up construction projects on campus in a while. “When we have to renovate, the ceilings are often low. With this building because we were able to start new, we were able to have higher ceilings and open it up for the dining areas,” she said.

In the downstairs private dining room, large windows that overlook a natural plantings area will allow natural light to pour in.

Also, in late March the university closed the Wright Place to begin the renovations to that popular eating area. Slated to reopen in mid-August, the new Wright Place will have a Burger Studio, Starbucks, Sbarro’s Pizza and Einstein’s Bros. Bagels.

The update aimed at the preferences of students’ tastes, said Stephanie Sumner, marketing manager with ECU Campus Dining/Aramark.  

“Dining choices were made by Aramark after a six-month research and data project, called a market match. We survey students, take traffic counts in the different neighborhoods of campus, and that’s how we establish which brands will be brought to campus,” said Sumner. “It’s pretty extensively research. We did the market match for ECU in 2006-07. We try to get a feel for what the customers are looking for.”

She noted that the Wright Place serves about 2,500 students each day, along with faculty and staff customers.

When the fall semester begins, it should be ready for the students’ return, Shoemaker said.

“The appearance will be completely different from the previous Wright Place. The Starbucks will be a separate space with outside and inside entrances,” she said.

She noted that the new configuration has the food venues in the back of the space and all seating for patrons will be in the front of the Wright Place.

The bathrooms shared between the Wright Place and Dowdy Student Store are being refurbished as well with new finishes and fixtures, Shoemaker added.

The contractor for the project is Daniels & Daniels from Goldsboro.

Also, several residence halls are getting updates and renovations.

At Garrett and Fletcher Residence Halls, both are getting fire sprinklers installed this summer. And Fletcher is also having all bathrooms and laundry rooms renovated.

And Tyler Residence Hall is in the first phase of a two-summer project, Shoemaker said. This summer, on floors 5-9, all rooms are being renovated, including new paint, new flooring, fire sprinklers, new lighting and furniture. Next summer, floors 1-4 will receive the same updates.

At Tyler, all bathrooms will be renovated and updated this summer and next; floors 7-9 will be completed and ready for the students’ return. It will be fully handicapped accessible by the end of the summer, Shoemaker said.

And finally, Aycock Residence Hall is getting a new fire alarm system and all new doors.

“It’s a busy summer for us, but we’re on target,” Shoemaker said.


Croatan exterior 
The new Croatan dining facility on ECU’s campus uses reclaimed bricks from a demolished N.C. tobacco warehouse as part of its LEED accreditation. The building will have two entrances for diners; this view shows the Dixon Way entrance that faces the Brewster Building and Fletcher Music Center.

This story appeared originally in the Aug. 27, 2010 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at