Social 704 Opens to More Than 1,800 Guests

Categories: Dining

On Sunday, Aug. 20, more than 300 students gathered on the second floor of the Popp Martin Student Union, waiting to be the first patrons in the door on the opening night of UNC Charlotte’s newest dining hall.

At 5 p.m. staff opened the partitions, and students streamed through the newly installed express lanes. A bright, open floor plan, eclectic furnishings and state-of-the-art food stations greeted them. This space was no Crown Commons – the renovated, renamed Social 704 was open for business!

By the end of the night, more than 1,800 students, staff and guests passed through the doors to experience the transformed dining hall and enjoy a delicious meal. Sophomore Natalia Harris appreciated the difference between the old and new space, stating, “I definitely see myself eating here more often this year.”

Students serve themselves ice cream at the dessert station
Students serve themselves ice cream at the dessert station in Social 704.

“It’s a big change from the old Crown,” says Alice Cunningham. Currently a Chartwells team member at Social 704, she has worked at Charlotte in part-time and full-time positions for fifteen years. She has seen many changes to the campus dining scene over the years: Crown Commons and the Student Union opening in 2009, Residence Dining Hall closing in 2014 and SoVi Dining Hall opening in 2015.

Now, Cunningham monitors the entrance to Social 704 as the dining hall celebrates its opening week.

“I love it. It’s so amazing. I love my students. When they’re happy, I’m happy. And the students love it.”

Alice Cunningham
Time-lapse video showing the construction for Social 704.

Located in the same wing of the Popp Martin Student Union that Crown Commons previously occupied, Social 704 is now one of two all-you-care-to-eat dining halls on campus. Guests can enjoy eats from seven unique stations, plus a breakfast nook and dessert bar. The pizza station – a student favorite – boasts an even bigger oven than before. Diverse seating options and a community table make it easy for friend groups, both small and large, to eat and socialize together.

Two stacked images: students spoon chicken and rice onto plates from the buffet line, and a Chartwells cook pushes a pizza into an open oven
Top: Students plate up chicken, veggies and rice at a hot food station. Bottom: A Chartwells team member inserts a pie into the WoodStone pizza grill.

“We all know that students and people in general congregate around kitchens in homes; people congregate around food,” remarked Kevin Bailey, the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, during an early preview day of Social 704. “This is another space and place on this campus where our students can come together, break bread, have conversation, talk, take advantage of this great space.”

Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kevin Bailey addresses the crowd at the Social 704 early preview day.

A brand new station, Delicious Without, provides a menu free of the top nine allergens like dairy, eggs and nuts. The menu even avoids gluten! By keeping the allergen-free food separate from the other stations, Delicious Without gives students with allergies peace of mind, knowing that safe, healthy and tasty food options are always available in the dining hall.

Delicious without station with dishes on the buffet line and a standing banner detailing allergies avoided
The Delicious Without station in Social 704 serves up fresh, delicious food options with none of the top nine allergens.

Director of Auxiliary Services, Jody Thompson, was excited to see Social 704 welcome guests for the first dinner rush. “The highlight of the project has been watching the students enter Social 704 for the first time. Their reactions have made all of the hard work worthwhile.”

She oversees dining and has worked closely with the architecture, construction, facilities and other teams since the project’s inception. “This is why we do what we do – to make sure our students have access to great food in spaces that they enjoy visiting.”

Photo collage: student smiles with a plate of salad in the dining hall, smiling students in Social 704 t-shirts walk through the express lanes, arrangement of salads with peaches and arugula on the buffet line
Top left: Student poses in front of Crisp, the salad bar station at Social 704. Bottom left: Arrangement of salad plates at the Crisp food station. Right: Two students wearing Social 704 shirts enter through the express lanes for the dining hall’s preview day.

The project to renovate the Student Union dining hall has been almost four years in the making. Multiple teams worked together to completely overhaul the space from floor to ceiling in just four months. Some of the many groups and individuals vital to the project’s success include:

  • the team at Moseley Architects;
  • the team at Whiting-Turner Contracting Company with Project Manager Jared Puketza, Superintendent Sean Kerr, Superintendent Mitch Lochbihler, Assistant Project Manager Alexie Jean Jacques and UNC Charlotte student and Field Engineer Intern Troy Parish;
  • the Student Affairs team with Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Kevin Bailey;
  • the Popp Martin Student Union team with Director Morgan Meehan;
  • the Facilities Management team with Associate Vice Chancellor for Facilities Management Rich Steele and Assistant Director of Project Management Amanda Caudle;
  • the Chartwells teams with Resident District Manager Paul Johnson, Director of Operations Jorge Elizagaray, Campus Executive Chef John Hutchison, District Executive Chef Shawn Kravis, Social 704 Executive Chef Jasmine Peoples, Director of Board Dining Cindy Torrence and Social 704 Director Jason Ritter;
  • and the Business Services teams with Associate Vice Chancellor for Business Services Doug Lape, Facility Planner Drew Averitt, Director of Auxiliary Services Jody Thompson and Architectural Technician Robert Holmes, Jr.

Meal plan holders can use meals to access the new dining hall, but anyone can enjoy a bite at Social 704 by paying the door rate with their 49er account, Declining Balance or debit/credit card. Find Social 704 hours and menus on Dine on Campus.