Plans for a new, nearly $7 million cafeteria at St. Viator High School were unanimously recommended by the Arlington Heights Plan Commission this week.
Once approved by the full Arlington Heights village board, the new cafeteria will be called Querbes Hall, named for the Rev. Louis Querbes, who founded the Viatorian Order of priests and brothers, said Thomas Ramsden, development officer for the school.
It is the order that owns the high school, not the Chicago Archdiocese.
The current, 53-year-old cafeteria will begin to be torn down later this summer, and construction is expected to be completed by August 2015.
In the meantime the school's food service company, Quest Management Services, will prepare food off-site and bring it in each day. Students will use a second gymnasium as a makeshift cafeteria for the 2014-15 school year, Ramsden said.
"It's a little short-term pain for long-term gain," he said. "It's going to be a great facility."
Querbes Hall will offer what officials called a college-style food court with different stations for different types of food or nutritional needs, including a gluten-free area.
The new facility will be 15,246 square feet, an upgrade from the 11,300-square-foot cafeteria in use now, Ramsden said.
"The need to improve our food preparation facilities has actually presented us with a great opportunity to provide an improved experience for our students," said the Rev. Corey Brost, president of St. Viator High School.
"By building Querbes Hall, we will not only have a food court-style dining hall that you find on many college campuses today, but a technologically advanced space that will allow our students to work together on class assignments. In addition, it will provide needed facilities for gatherings for our growing co-curricular activities."
The cafeteria project is the latest part of a $15 million investment St. Viator is making in its facilities and students over the past few years, officials said. Much of the money for these upgrades comes from donations and loans.
Other projects included the renovated Scanlan Center, devoted to students with learning disabilities; increasing the school's tuition assistance fund; and a soon-to-be completed project to convert the library into the Marie Gallagher Academic Commons, a more high-tech resource center that complements the school's conversion from textbooks to iPads.
Construction on the academic commons project will finish up this summer shortly before work on the cafeteria begins.
Ramsden said the school's administration and board of trustees are also developing a $2 million plan to revamp performing and visual arts program and facilities.
"These enhancements will provide educational space that supports the collaborative learning style we are teaching our students," said Principal Eileen Manno. "By adjusting our facilities to incorporate advanced educational practices and utilize the latest technology, we will ensure that our students not only do well at St. Viator, but in college and in their professional lives."