Wednesday, February 8, 2023

New Dining Hall and country music cafe: major changes coming to food venues for fall semester


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Photos courtesy of MTSU News and MT Dining

It’s been a busy week for MTSU, particularly in regards to student food venues on campus. Two major changes have been announced: one, the re-naming and dedication of the Cyber Café as the Chris Young Café (by none other than Chris Young himself), and second, the announcing of a new student restaurant—the Farmer’s Market.

The Chris Young Café

Photo courtesy of MTSU News

The Chris Young Café came as a surprise to many students after the previous re-dedication of the Cyber Café to the Blue Note Café, which happened earlier this year. The concept that drove the Blue Note Café remains the same though- the space will serve as a practice center for student entertainers and technicians by day and a performance venue by nigh for music, radio, comedy and other entertainment.

According to MTSU News, the venue will be “3,200 square feet  of community and dining space with two raised platform stages,” thanks to the generous $50,000 donation from Young for its renovations.

“MTSU will always hold a special place in my heart,” Young said at the unveiling on July 9 at the Country Music Association’s headquarters. “It helped me launch my music career and I’m glad for the opportunity to give back to the University.”

The multi-platinum Nashville entertainer attended MTSU in 2005, and continues to invest in future generations of musicians by giving back to the University and its students. In addition to the donation for the renovations, Young started an annual scholarship for recording industry students in 2016 and donated a selection of his touring audio equipment in 2012. The building, however, holds the promise of being his greatest investment yet.

“When you’re teaching students how to manage, book and promote a concert hall, club or theater, having a working venue on campus is invaluable,” said Media and Entertainment Dean Ken Paulson.

“The Chris Young Café will encourage our students to dream bigger,” University President Sidney McPhee said. “Chris studied at MTSU and then launched a successful music industry career, so every time they see his name on the cafe, their aspirations will seem a little more obtainable if they follow in his footsteps and work as hard as he has.”

The building should be opened during the fall semester.

The Farmer’s Market

Photo courtesy of MT Dining

In a second bit of shocking news, there is another new addition to the MT Dining assemblage– the Farmer’s Market, a second dining hall akin to McCallie Dining Hall, but focused on fresh, local materials.  The restaurant will be serving the dual purpose of replacing both the Raider Zone dining hall, which was formerly located in the James Union building, and the Blue Raider Grill, which was formerly located in the Student Union. Both of these locations have been closed- the former is going to be repurposed, and the latter will be turned into the Farmer’s Market.

Mt Dining’s Aramark Marketing Manager Rachel Hunter described the new venue as a way for dining halls to stay “on top of trends.”

“It’s a farm-to-fork kind of experience with local, seasonal, fresh foods,” she said.  “It’s kind of catering to the new trend of how everything has to be made right there in front of you.”

The dining hall will feature an in-house chef, a salad bar, an allergy station and a featured daily sandwich, among other things. All food produced will be from farms that, although all Aramark affiliates, are within 200 miles of the school.

For those who are worried about losing the calm atmosphere of the Blue Raider Grill, Hunter assures that there is no need.

“The whole dynamic is not changing that much,” she said. “This is just moving forward with fresh food… So it’ll definitely be a step in the right direction.”

The venue will accept meal swipe, flex bucks and cash/credit for all three meals, with the door-rate matching McCallie Dining Hall. If all goes according to plan, the grand opening will be in September with multiple events for students to take part in.

To contact Editor-in-Chief Angele Latham, email

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