Renovations are coming to the Derb, but not immediately, dining center director says

Loved by many students for its family-like atmosphere, Derby Dining Center will see $16 million in renovations in the near future. (Julian Naber | Collegian Media Group)

Derby Dining Center, popularly known as “the Derb,” has been a staple of Kansas State for more than 50 years. However, as classic as it is—originally built and designed in 1965—rumors about its impending renovation are blowing around campus.

Mark Edwards, unit director for the Derby Dining Center, said there are solid plans in place for renovation, though they are not going to take place in the immediate future.

“Dining at the Derb is a community-minded event,” Edwards said. “Those working on the renovation plans take that seriously.”

The Kansas Board of Regents approved a $16 million budget for the renovation, Edwards said. Additionally, he said the Derb will continue operation throughout the renovation process.

“The Derb highly values community and protecting these values are important to those in charge of the renovation project,” Edwards said. “The many long tables at the Derb are to stay the same to ensure its K-State family feel.”

“The Derb” stands in stark contrast to the more recently renovated counterpart across campus, Kramer Dining Center. Still, many of its students said as patrons, they have come to appreciate the “home” atmosphere of the dining center.

“It’s kind of quaint, it’s a little outdated, but I think that’s the point,” Brett Ferguson, freshman in chemical engineering, said. “Its got a nice environment. You go in there and everybody’s happy all the time.”

The goal of the renovations is to bring Derby into the 21st century without affecting the sense of community, which Edwards said he understands will be a challenge.

Some students said they enjoy “the Derb” for its value on community, not necessarily because it looks nice.

“I appreciate the homey feel, it seems like no matter where you go you see people you know,” Carson Camp, sophomore in elementary education and resident assistant in Ford Hall, said.

Edwards said the focus will be on changing the exterior main entrance, the lobby area, the entry to the dining rooms, the visual of the dining rooms and how they will serve the food on the platforms.

Edwards said the updates are mainly to the look of Derby and as well as to optimize its efficiency. They will most likely replace the narrow entry stairwells with one grand entrance that would allow students to enter the dining center without having to choose a menu concept immediately.

The hope is for preparation to begin sometime in July of 2019, but it is possible that the project won’t be underway until as late as 2021, Edwards said.