9-23-19 All-American Dining Room

The seating area of Purdue's All-American Dining Room. The room was originally built with Cary Hall in the 1930s.

After 80 years of operation, the All-American Dining Room opened to the public on Monday.

Anyone unfamiliar with the room’s history may be baffled by the fact that a dining room could open without having really closed. There are different layers of “being open” where the AADR is concerned, as the room has been nearly continuously operational since the 1930s.

The dining room was built under Cary Quadrangle as one of the hall’s eight original dining courts, when the University’s dining system was more structured than it is now.

“At that time, there were set meal times and everyone ate at the same time,” said Amanda Adams, Purdue Dining and Catering employee success manager, “so all of the residents of Cary Quad were eating, and they all had an assigned dining room.”

The court operated in this function until the 1980s, when all but two of Cary’s courts were closed. Over the intervening 50 years, the University had begun to shift away from the eating habits best served by the original dining courts.

The AADR opened in its oft-rumored capacity in the mid-1980s as a dinner hall for scholarship athletes in the football and basketball programs, according to NCAA regulations surrounding those scholarships. This incarnation predates every currently-open campus dining court. According to the Purdue Dining website, Hillenbrand is the oldest, established in 1993.

In the early 2010s, NCAA regulations on feeding athletes changed, allowing the dining room to expand its use. The specific regulation language allowed universities to give “meals to student-athletes at any time” or for financial aid to allow a student to take a university’s highest-tier meal plan.

“At that point,” Adams said, “it went from just being a place for scholarship athletes to being a space for all athletes in football, men’s and women’s basketball and volleyball to take their dinner meal.”

The dining room underwent its final transformation this past year, after the athletics staff moved the teams into their own facilities to more effectively monitor their nutrition. This opened up the opportunity to extend the dining room’s attendance to the general student population.

The room itself has undergone a few aesthetic changes over its history. The room’s current design is the result of a 2001 renovation, according to Adams.

Residential Dining Assistant Manager Ashley Sarjent said the room’s current serving line was redesigned this year. The redesign is meant to streamline service for the larger student demographic.

The All-American Dining Room is located under Cary Northeast and is open from 5-8 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

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