The two-story, 53,466-square-foot facility is the growing university's first dining hall. It seats 1,200 people. It cost $21 million to build and is funded entirely by student meal plans, officials said.
Food offerings include made-to-order specialty sandwiches, build-your-own salads, locally grown produce and international cuisine. There is an onsite herb and vegetable garden, and local farmers will supply many of the hall's produce and meats.
The facility was designed to be "green." It has a composting program to recycle food waste, low-energy lighting, trayless service to reduce water usage and Energy Star kitchen equipment. Officials said Styrofoam products will not be used. LEED certification is pending.
"This is definitely not your grandparents' dining hall," KSU President Dr. Dan Papp said. "This is a state-of-the-art facility that will become the national model."
Papp noted at Thursday's ribbon cutting ceremony that officials expect up to 22,500 students at the university in the fall - 14,000 will be full-time and more than 3,200 will live on campus. KSU is the state's third largest university.
"The need for a student dining facility was extremely high," Papp said. "Time was well past due to construct, build and open this dining hall."
The facility, which took a year to build, is located near the future health science building that is under construction.
Norman Radow, chairman of the KSU Foundation, said, "Seven years ago, this was a commuter college. Nobody lived, ate or stayed here. It was dark at night. Within those seven years, we have transformed this university together into something remarkable."
A sample of the food from the menu was provided at the ribbon cutting. It included cilantro citrus chicken, roast turkey and rice soup, cheeseburgers, monster veggie baguette sandwiches, breadsticks, pastries and coffee.
The hall is open to anyone, including the public, from 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. during the week, and from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on the weekend. It will officially open 10:30 a.m. today.
There are five different meal plans for students. Sixteen meals cost $120 per semester (or $7.50 per meal), 48 student meals cost $355 per semester ($7.40 per meal) and 128 meals cost $928 per semester ($7.25 per meal). A five-day unlimited plan is $1,540 and seven-day unlimited plan is $1,640 per semester. Those not on a plan will pay menu price.
The dining hall will employ more than 150 workers, including chef Gary Coltek, who helped design the 9,468-square-foot kitchen.
School begins Aug. 15.