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Faculty, staff and students returning for the Spring 2011 semester found a newly renovated Croatan, with new and exciting options for meals on campus including a full-service Chick-Fil-A and a Chili's Too. Pictured above, John Worsley cleans the Chili’s Too sign on the second floor of the redone Croatan. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

New Croatan opens as students return to ECU

By Jeannine Manning Hutson

Former East Carolina University students who remember the Croatan from its early years will be surprised to learn where they used to pop in for a soft drink and sandwich has been replaced with a building housing two full-service restaurants.

Built in 1970, the Croatan had grown to house a Chick-fil-A Express and serve approximately 3,000 customers per day. The building was demolished in June 2009 to make way for the two-story building that stands on the site today, which opened for faculty, staff and students Jan. 10.

The new Croatan houses 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.

Upstairs, the private dining area has been named “The University Club” and will provide table-service for faculty and staff members from 11 a.m to 2 p.m. and can be reserved by groups, including student clubs, for dinner meetings. On its walls are framed ECU sports jerseys and sports photos. Downstairs, two meetings area will allow large groups, up to 120 people, to meet in “The Green Room,” or a small group in a side meeting room.

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Francis Winn prepares a coffeemaker for the opening of the Croatan.

In all, the two restaurant spaces can seat approximately 400 customers, approximately five-times more than the former Croatan.

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

“We’ve started advertising two months ago about the new facility’s opening date and we’re hearing a lot of buzz from students and everything we’re hearing from them is positive,” Sumners said Thursday, as crews finished last minute details such as power-washing the outside walkways.

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. An interesting component of the building, and part of the LEED accreditation, is that the bricks used on the outside of the building were reclaimed from a demolished N.C. tobacco warehouse.

The contractor for the project was Rodgers Builders from Charlotte.

Campus groups interested in reserving dining space for meetings in the new Croatan should call ECU Catering at 328-4756.



This story appeared originally in the Jan. 28, 2011 issue of Pieces of Eight. An archived version of that issue is available at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/news/poe/2011/111/January-2011-Archives.cfm.