Ron Grassi, of Erie, left, sells a hot dog to University of Colorado junior Peter Swanson while sophomore David Brandts awaits his turn Tuesday at the
Ron Grassi, of Erie, left, sells a hot dog to University of Colorado junior Peter Swanson while sophomore David Brandts awaits his turn Tuesday at the University Memorial Center. ( JEREMY PAPASSO )

Alferd Packer is due for a facelift.

Not the infamous Colorado cannibal, but the University of Colorado's dining spot that bears his name and hasn't been renovated since 1986.

CU's University Memorial Center will spend about $2 million to give the Alferd Packer Grill a more inviting look and convert the surrounding dining areas so they look less like high school cafeterias and more like restaurants. Other upgrades will likely include expanding composting to the dining areas and installing more power strips so students can charge laptops.

The renovation project is now in its design phase, said UMC director Carlos Garcia. Representatives from Oz Architecture have been on the Boulder campus, gathering suggestions from students.

The UMC will pay for $600,000 of the project, and the remainder of the renovation will be paid for by increased student fees and extra money expected to be generated by the fresh look. The dining options will likely remain the same.

Additional student fees will begin in fall 2010 and won't exceed $5 a semester, Garcia said.

The tables in the UMC now seat five to six people, but often one student will spread out belongings and take up an entire table, giving the student center a crowded feel, according to Garcia.

"Right now, they are set up in a high school cafeteria style," Garcia said. "That's not what students want."

The remodeling plans could include more lounge areas and a mix of smaller tables.


The project will also open up the Alferd Packer Grill, which is now surrounded by a wall that might deter business.

"A lot of students walk by, and it's walled in, so they can't see what's in there," Garcia said. "Once we open it up, they'll be able to scan the offerings."

Dominique Kruse, a junior communication major, said the UMC needs a more modern feel with televisions and outlets for computers.

"The first floor, where most students eat and study, is kind of dingy," she said. "It could use a revamp, with more couches and friendlier colors."

She said that during her freshman year she frequently ate in the Hard Drive Cafe in the Kittredge complex because of the environment -- its pool tables, colors and fun atmosphere.

"The UMC feels cold and unfriendly," Kruse said. "If it were revamped I could see more people hanging out there and eating there. If they made it more like a giant cafe, there would probably be more students coming there."

The Boulder campus is also building an $84.4 million "Center for Community," a 323,000-square-foot student hub and dining hall that officials say will help students feel more at home on the large campus and will bring several scattered offices under one roof. The building is scheduled to open in fall 2010.

That dining area will have 900 seats; 10 interactive, live cooking stations; walk-up windows for quick meals; late-night pizza, sandwich and dessert options; outdoor dining; and CU's bakery.

Contact Camera Staff Writer Brittany Anas at 303-473-1132 or