The "bowl" has been completely removed from the Jaybowl. In its place now is just "The Jay."
The Kansas Memorial Union on Thursday unveiled its new event space on Level 1 of the Union in the area once occupied by the Jaybowl bowling alley — or, more accurately, about half the area once occupied by Jaybowl.
Jaybowl, which first opened in 1953, closed for good this spring. In announcing the end of the Jaybowl era, Union officials cited changing student preferences, growing financial losses, old equipment and new space needs. Over the summer, the lanes and that old equipment were ripped out, the space carpeted over and the walls painted all white. Moveable tables and chairs were added to accommodate different event setups. The concession stand is being used as a staging area for caterers rather than renting shoes and selling snacks.
Photographer Nick Krug and I checked out the Jay right before its ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday afternoon, but instead of the vast, sprawling room I had imagined — at least as long as the full-size bowling lanes — I was surprised to see a floor-to-ceiling wall built about a third of the way down where the lanes used to be. In front of it is the carpeted event space, and behind it is a very large non-public storage space with a little bit of the old Jaybowl character left, including the historic Jayhawks painted on blue pillars.
According to director of building services Lisa Kring, the wall encloses the Jay at the maximum square footage of occupied space codes allow for having only two exits. The Jaybowl met code because the far ends of the lane weren’t occupied by people, only bowling equipment, she said. Adding more exits would be no easy thing, as that side of Level 1 is underground.
While the Union’s ballroom and other event rooms are great, the new Jay is hoped to have more of a “hangout” feel, said associate director of union programs Michelle Compton. “This is more like your family rec room.” SUA events has planned a full list of hangout-ish fall activities in the space, kicking off with an International Night featuring music and food planned by the African Student Association on Sept. 13 and Canvas and Mocktails featuring Lawrence’s Painted Kanvas social painting classes and non-alcoholic drinks on Sept. 18. (See more at facebook.com/SUAevents.)
A wisp of Jaybowl remains, but it’s confined to a historical display case just outside the entrance to the Jay.
The case is packed with Jaybowl memorabilia and photographs. Mike Reid, director of public affairs for the Union and a KU historian, has been working on the display and said he hoped to be able to hunt down more before finalizing the permanent display.
• In addition to this year’s Common Book, Ernest Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms,” the Spencer Museum of Art has announced its choice for the 2015-16 Common Work of Art. It’s a 1914 self-portrait by German artist Otto Dix — who served during World War I and created, according to the Spencer, “some of the most incisive and explosive” artworks about the war — from the museum's collection. See it here.
• In case you missed it, a New York Times op-ed recently gave a shout-out to the Kansas University Honors Program. According to the op-ed, KU’s is one of five programs mentioned as getting “highest praise” in a new book, un-excitingly but descriptively titled, “A Review of Fifty Public University Honors Programs.”
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It looks like the KU campus will be a bit of a new food frontier this fall, with a number of on-campus dining changes on the way.
Don't worry — your Crunchy Chicken Cheddar Wrap isn't going anywhere. But in addition to the remodeled Mrs. E's dining hall on Daisy Hill (read about it in the KU Today edition, coming in August), there will be a few new tastes available at the Kansas Union and the Underground area in Wescoe Hall.
First up is a name you might recognize: Panda Express. The quick-service Chinese restaurant chain, fresh off its first Lawrence location opened earlier this year, will come to the Kansas Union, as well.
You can get your Kung Pao chicken and other such delights on the third floor of the union, near the KJHK radio station headquarters. Construction on the location will start soon, and officials hope for it to open in October, said Claudia Larkin, a KU Memorial Unions spokeswoman.
The Panda Express will be separate from the main food-court area in the Union, called The Market, but that's going to be changing, too. A few of the "concepts" there — the counters that serve different types of food — will be switched out for new ones.
The Quesarito counter will become Serrano's Latin Cuisine, Fresco will change to World Kitchen International Cafe and the Corner Bakery will now be Sweet Baby Jay's Bakery. (Must be a James Taylor fan over at KU Dining Services, I suppose.)
Also new there will be a spot for the most important meal of the day, called the Early Bird Breakfast Bar.
Those new concepts, all created by KU Dining Services chefs, will feature a lot more fresh, made-to-order cooking, Larkin said.
"It will have a big freshening-up," she said.
And down Jayhawk Boulevard at Wescoe, an Indian food option is coming to the Underground dining area. It's called Cafe Spice, and it's a food-service chain that to this point has been located mainly in the Northeast. Larkin said it would feature a lot of vegetarian and vegan options.
These changes are largely based on a recent survey of students by Dining Services, she said.
"We knew that Indian food would be popular," Larkin said. "We knew that Panda Express would be popular."
Indian food would definitely rank high on a survey of Heard on the Hill bloggers' dining preferences. They are also hungry for KU news tips, which you can send to firstname.lastname@example.org.