Fire forces Spit to close, Dining Services to alter eating options


Courtesy of Villanova Campus Dining

Shlok Kaneria

With the recent closing of the Donahue Dining Hall (Spit), the University has implemented a plan to restore the all-you-care to eat dining option. Timothy Dietzler, the Director of Dining Services, released important details regarding the incident, which occurred on Saturday, Sept. 2 around 8:30 a.m. 

“The blower motor, a machine used to dry items coming out of the dish machine suddenly began to smoke as a result from a triggered electrical fire,” Dietzler said. 

The motor itself is contained within a stainless steel housing above the machine. While no problems seemed evident at first, the staff eventually noticed flames within the blower motor housing and acted quickly by evacuating the building safely. Public Safety and Facilities responded to the alarm and extinguished the contained fire in a timely manner. 

Much of the infrastructural harm occurred in the dish room, which is located in the middle of the serving area in Donahue Hall. While there was no direct fire damage, the electrical fire created an immense amount of smoke and soot, which permeated the entire building. Fortunately, no one was injured as the result of the electrical fire. 

The smoke damage was extensive, resulting in the major restorations that are going on in the Spit. A full cleaning of the building is required, along with the replacement of multiple ceiling tiles in the dish room and the kitchen. As a sanitary precaution, the Dining Services is also cleaning the entire building, including the rafters, walls, shelving, equipment, counters and floors. While progress is being made rapidly, some sections of the Spit are already operational. “The Donahue Market was one of the first sections to reopen on Wednesday Sept. 6 as this was one of the first sections of the building to be cleaned,” Dietzler said.

With the closing of the Spit, main campus dining halls were forced to provide food to all the diners from south campus, in addition to the normal traffic these locations already experience. To compensate, “Café Nova was converted into an all-you-care-to-eat dining operation,” Dietzler said. “The staff from the Donahue Court was shifted to working in main campus operations to support the increased volume of business while Donahue Hall was being cleaned. Subtle changes in the menu at main campus dining locations also made the sudden transition feasible. 

The major building cleaning efforts came to a close on Sunday, Sept. 10. The new ceiling tiles were installed at the beginning of this week. Once the new tiles were in place, a final sanitizing cleaning of the kitchen and serving area as well as re-stocking food and food preparation had to occur.  If all goes according to plan, Donahue will be ready to reopen for full service on Thursday, September 14th. 

While these sorts of sudden incidents are unforeseeable, much of the affected student population has had no trouble transitioning to main campus dining options for the time being. 

The University’s Dining Services has worked to  quickly implement a backup plan during the duration of the restoration project alongside the help and leadership of Alice Lengthe from Environmental Health and Safety and the Facilities Management team. These departments are assisting in overseeing the progress at Donahue Hall.