The Castle to become meat-free after renovation

The food destination will reopen in fall 2018 with open floor plan, expanded outdoor seating


The Castle’s makeover comes in a multi-part project to renovate several dorms on McCormick Road.

Emma Klein | Cavalier Daily

The Castle — a dining hall and hangout spot located in the basement of the first-year dorm Bonnycastle House — is currently under architectural and culinary renovation along with other dorms located along McCormick Road. The space is set to reopen with the start of the 2018 fall semester and will feature a vegan and vegetarian menu. Aramark, the University’s dining service, is working with the University Facilities Management in the reconstruction.  

Moving away from its past cuisine — comfort food like sandwiches, hamburgers and french fries — The Castle will serve a la carte and healthier alternatives. The proposed menu is presently being tested at the Observatory Hill dining hall. The Castle will also be losing its attached convenience store, which sold grocery and snack items. 

“Driven from student feedback, we have tailored the new Castle menu to feature mindful and healthy offerings,” Aramark marketing manager Scott Aebersold said in an email to The Cavalier Daily. “This includes an entirely plant-based menu that focuses on guest customizability. The menu platforms include a variety of whole grain bowls, panini sandwiches and entrée salad selections.”

For students on meatless diets — like fourth-year College student Brianna Young — the renovation brings increased diversity in meal options. 

“Personally, I’m usually able to find things to eat pretty easily around Grounds, especially being able to customize things like at Subway,” Young said. “It sounds like it’s going to be awesome to have more variety of vegetarian options and I feel like it’s a step in the right direction.”

Other students, especially those with fond memories of The Castle, aren’t as enthusiastic about the changes brought by the renovation.

“I’ll miss having a fun place to go that wasn’t trying to put on a shiny face,” third-year Commerce student Elizabeth Muratore said. “While I’m glad that Old Dorms is getting a facelift, I do think it's a shame that what was once a fun first-year hangout is apparently being replaced by an all-vegan restaurant that won't really cater to all first years, and I don't think the money spent on this project was really necessary." 

Beyond changes to the cuisine, the renovation also includes a design and user experience facelift. According to Aebersold, some of the alterations will include a new ordering system, an open floor plan and increased-comfort dining.

“Castle will feature indoor/outdoor seating with a fully automated kiosk ordering system,” Aebersold said. “Each table will be outfitted with an order tablet for ease of use. The space will also feature an open floor plan kitchen and floor to ceiling windows to offer an amazing view of The Dell.  Additionally, the Castle will have a one-of-a-kind mindful dining space, inclusive of soft seating and suggested reading materials.”

The Castle’s makeover comes in a multi-part project to renovate several dorms on McCormick Road — the Kent, Dabney, Bonnycastle, Emmet, Page, Humphreys, Echols, Hancock, Metcalf and Lefevre houses. The project also overhauls the Bonnycastle cul-de-sac to create a safer outdoor eating area for The Castle.   

“Student feedback shaped the direction we went for the new Castle,” Aebersold said, “but the main reason for the renovation was … [Bonnycastle] being renovated and adding new middle AC units.”

All McCormick Road construction is set to be completed by May 2020. 

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