Dobbins Dining Hall and Gazebo opens for fall semester

August 19, 2010

Penn State Erie, The Behrend College, will open the newly rebuilt and renovated Dobbins Dining Hall and Gazebo on Friday, Aug. 20, just as new and returning students begin to settle into their on-campus residence halls. Lunch will be the first meal.

"Our goal was to be operational to make the beginning of the semester as smooth as possible for our students," Mike Lindner, director of Housing and Food Services, said. "The project is 95 percent complete. We have access to key areas of the building today, and will have full occupancy by early September."

Dobbins Dining Hall and Gazebo was scheduled to undergo a $7.5 million renovation this summer. Plans included additions on the north and south ends of the dining hall. After a fire on March 1 damaged what had been the college’s primary, all-you-care-to-eat dining facility, Penn State Behrend needed to rebuild the Gazebo at Dobbins in addition to its planned renovations.

"It has truly been a collective effort to make sure this project kept moving forward," Randy Geering, senior director of business and operations, said. "Penn State Behrend and Housing and Food Services worked side-by-side with Perry Construction and its subcontractors as well as the Erie County Department of Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to ensure that Dobbins would be ready for move-in. These organizations worked collaboratively throughout the process, and have our sincere appreciation."

What's new?

  • -- In total, Dobbins Dining Hall and Gazebo increased from 23,040 square-feet to 31,645 square-feet.
  • -- The Gazebo at Dobbins has been redesigned and rebuilt, and now has 1,846 square-feet of additional seating space.
  • -- The Gazebo has a new nautical weather vane, a schooner with her sails at full mast, at the peak of its roof. The weather vane honors Daniel Dobbins, the naval captain for whom the building is named. In the early 1800s, Dobbins built and sailed schooners. All of Penn State Behrend's residence halls are named after a commander or ship from the Battle of Lake Erie in the War of 1812.
  • -- Dobbins Dining Hall includes the kitchen and food preparation areas, food serving area and some seating. There is a new floor throughout the building.
  • -- Dobbins' serving area was renovated and now has redesigned food stations dedicated to home-style cooking; soup and panini sandwiches; pasta and Mediterranean foods; wok cooking; deli items; breakfast; and a new broiler and grill area along with a self-serve and made-to-order salad bar.
  • -- Previous space in Dobbins was reconfigured into a new conference room and new office space for the college’s housing managers and student schedulers.
  • -- Dobbins' loading dock was expanded and now includes a freight elevator and a second loading bay.
  • -- Dobbins' 1,146-square-foot north addition includes a new entrance, vestibule and elevator, all located off of Aquarius Drive.
  • -- The 5,612-square-foot south addition includes a new special events dining room and adjacent patio area. This addition also has a new elevator, new freezer and has doubled Housing and Food Services' walk-in refrigerator space, which will allow the college to order and store more product.
  • -- Other amenities throughout Dobbins Dining Hall and Gazebo include a new roof on the entire facility, new fire suppression and safety features, which were part of the original renovation plans to be carried out this summer, and new HVAC units.

The north entrance off Aquarius Drive and final construction projects will be completed in a few weeks. Students, staff and guests are asked to use the building’s south entrance in the interim.

In March, Penn State Behrend launched the "Rebuilding Dobbins" website to track what transpired in the aftermath of the fire at Dobbins Dining Hall and Gazebo. Visit for more information.

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated August 20, 2010