Students get a taste of Monarch Center

The new cafeteria’s opening gives Valley students varied food choices.

By Ricardo Varela and Melinda Henricks

The smell of charbroiled-chicken breast, hamburgers, and taco meat filled the cafeteria at the new Monarch Center at Valley College. Jesus “Chuy” Angulo and his staff of 23 held the grand opening of the new cafeteria on Monday, a partial inauguration of Valley’s latest building.

The structure, set between the Campus Center and the Art Building, is built in what some experts describe as the postmodern green style of architecture. Its outer design features angular edges and several glass panels. “Monarchs” and an image of the school mascot is emblazoned on the main facade which houses the cafeteria. The east side of the building includes the student bookstore, the business office and a coffee bar. The west side boasts outdoor benches and lounging areas, faculty offices, the student union offices, the student health center and a student lounge. None of these areas were open Monday, but are scheduled to open later this semester. Although the cafeteria opened Monday with a limited menu, Angulo plans to bring the variety of his food truck to his new kitchen.

“We’re doing 50 percent of our menu today,” Angulo said Monday, who used to run the food truck on campus and now his company, Angulo Food Services, runs the cafeteria. “We’re going to start serving fresh pasta in few hours. We’re going to offer fresh-baked pizza and Chinese food next week.”

The new student union center is a 38,168 square-foot structure built with sustainability in mind. Its $37.8 million budget was paid for by money allocated to Valley from Proposition A and Measure J. The building features a 2-story canopy that catches rain water and re-distributes it through a waterfall that runs under and around the building.

“I am excited about the new cafeteria because it means that students will have more choices of what to eat and an inviting place enjoy their food,” said Valley College President Dr. Erika Endrijonas. “For too long, students have had to hunt for shade or a table to enjoy their breakfast or lunch, but now our state-of-the-art building provides the type of welcoming environment they deserve.”

Inside, the kitchen is split in two. The combination breakfast, burger, and sandwich station is flanked by two coolers. They hold bottled milk, juice, fruit cups, whole bananas and apples, a selection of fresh salads, quinoa, and parfaits. Burritos, sandwiches, and burgers are made to order and start at $6.75. Pre-packaged salads start at $5.50. Fountain drinks come in 24 ounces and are $1.50.

The kitchen features a stone pizza oven and wok station that will fire up next week. Dessert options are stored in their own rack between the Chinese station and the Mexican food trays. Both of these will feature a rotating menu, with Angulo planning a “wings Wednesday” as a signature staple. The cafeteria is open Monday through Thursday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and on Fridays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“I’m doing fresh daily,” Angulo said. “We want you to get your food fast, but I want flavor. I fed a campus with a flat-top smaller than this one when I had the food truck. Still, students are busy and would leave the line because it was too long.”

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