Dining Hall Makes Its Entree at Cal State Campus

Times Staff Writer

It was high noon Tuesday at California’s newest public college campus and stomachs were ready to rumble. Luckily, a hot lunch was only minutes away.

Cal State Channel Islands officially opened its dining hall Tuesday, ending an era of vending-machine rations and catering-truck cuisine at the campus near Camarillo. The campus has lacked regular food service since it opened in 2002. And with the nearest food outlets 15 minutes away, students, faculty and staff members have had few dining options.

But that changed this week with the opening of the Islands Cafe, a $1-million on-campus eatery where the offerings include cheeseburgers and cheese-filled tortellini.


“I think it’s really a great thing,” said sophomore Marla Musgrove, a business major who now may be able to abandon a college diet made up largely of ramen noodles. “It definitely makes it feel a lot more like a community with a place on campus to eat.”

The food court was years in the making, created in a building that was home to a large dining hall when the property was a state mental hospital.

University employee Anna Pavin, who worked at the hospital until its closure in 1997 before transitioning to a human resources job at the campus, said she was pleased to see the facility come full circle. And she was happy to end her days of brown-bag lunches.

“It was a long time to wait for hot food, but I’m glad it’s here,” Pavin said. “It’s especially good for the students living here. Where else were they going to go?”

University officials touched on that history Tuesday during a short ceremony to unveil the new facility. The operation is being run by Sodexho USA, which provides food service at colleges and other facilities nationwide.

“We feel like we’re at the beginning of something fantastic,” Sodexho spokesman Gene Perkins told about two dozen people gathered for the ceremony. “The school is growing and we’re excited to be part of it.”


The university sponsored a contest to name the dining hall and four students came up with the winning entry, the Islands Cafe. Channel Islands President Richard Rush then invited all in attendance to chow down on free pizza.

The dining room instantly swelled with faculty and staff members as well as students, including freshmen Monica Cubos, 18, and Drew Walsh, 19. Cubos had a burger as Walsh shoveled down pizza.

“It’s pretty good,” said Walsh, who, like others who live on campus, has been giving his microwave oven a workout. “We’ve gotten used to making food for ourselves, but this will be a good change of pace.”