The recently renovated Burwell Building can easily be compared to the food halls found in many major cities.

It’s a multilevel dining facility with multiple stations offering fresh and creative options for meals. Plus, it’s an inviting space to linger with friends, schedule a meeting and study. To say that diners have choices is an understatement.

The renovation of Burwell was a joint venture with the college’s culinary partner, AVI Foodsystems, that was completed in December 2021 at a cost of $11 million, funded largely by AVI. It includes a modern glass atrium and elevator.

“This space — this beautiful, new space — will fuel us with food, certainly, but also with conversation, laughter, knowledge, creativity and fun,” says Wofford President Nayef Samhat. “I’ve talked with a number of people who saw Burwell during its early days and who have spent time in Burwell now, and they almost can’t believe it’s the same building.”

The Feb. 18 grand-opening celebration had a Mardi Gras theme that included a brass band and an invitation for the entire campus community to partake in all that Burwell has to offer.

“I am confident that Burwell will be a destination where traditions, cultures and diverse foods are embraced and where amazing fresh meals are served each and every day by AVI team members who embrace a culture of genuine hospitality,” says Anthony Payiavlas, president and CEO of AVI Foodsystems. “It will be the place where people come together, form lasting friendships and create memories that will be cherished for a lifetime. In the simplest of terms, I want Burwell to be known for great food and outstanding hospitality and service.”

The food

Each station at Burwell is designed to be its own dining destination. There’s grilled fare, pizza, Asian cuisine, homestyle meals, options for people with food allergies and a dessert bar that’s hard to resist.

“We want every station to have its own restaurant identity,” says Cherie Tyger, resident director of culinary services, who points out the digital signage at each station listing its name and the day’s menu. Stations also have their own designated bowls and plates to complement themes.

Smoke & Fire offers burgers and hot dogs as well as rotating entrees like a brined and smoked pork loin. Pickled vegetables and sauces are also available to complement barbecue offerings.

Fusion offers Asian dishes, and Burwell’s open kitchens make it possible to watch the artistry that can be associated with cooking, especially when the wok is in use.

“The BTUs for it are off the charts,” says Stephen Baity, director of culinary operations, of the wok. “We have some amazing equipment.”

There’s a tandoori oven for naan bread, and four types of pizza are cooked daily in a brick oven.

Diners looking to simply make a sandwich will find house-roasted meats at The Carvery.

Clarity is a station offering meals that are free of eight major allergens and gluten, and there’s a display case where people can find allergy-friendly cookies, donut holes and other treats for the times those with food allergies need to satisfy cravings.

“I had a couple of students almost in tears because of this,” says Tyger of Clarity.

The dessert bar includes various pastries, multiple flavors of ice cream and homemade gelato, popsicles and doughnuts. It’s also the spot to visit during breakfast hours twice a week for crepes.

The space

The updated Burwell has an additional 150 seats and three rooms that can be reserved for meetings: the Gray-Jones Room, the Anna Todd Wofford Room and the Holcombe Room. In addition, the building features the Montgomery Room, which is used as a faculty/staff dining space, and a smaller president’s dining room. All rooms are outfitted with technology, including the Holcombe Room’s 85-inch television.

McMillan Pazdan Smith served as the architects for Burwell, and Robins & Morton oversaw construction.

About AVI

AVI is a family-owned company that was founded in 1960 when John Payiavlas purchased a few vending machines. He and his brother also built a building that included a bowling alley and warehouse space for the foodservice business. The family began to set itself apart from other vending machine competitors in the 1970s by making fresh food from scratch for its vending machines. In the 1980s, AVI began operating cafés for clients, which eventually led it to establish a campus dining program in 2002 and partnerships with healthcare facilities in 2003.

AVI manages hospitality services in 44 states while striving to be a model of sustainability by using ingredients from farms and suppliers within 100 miles of client partners.

“Fresh food is not only our culinary philosophy; it is how food was intended to be prepared,” Payiavlas says. “It is at the core of what we do. Taking the time and effort to prepare food from scratch is how we best demonstrate that we truly care for the people we serve. Students need nourishment to reach their goals and to empower their learning. Every client partner and every guest deserves only the best that we can provide; our commitment to scratch cooking and our platinum culinary standards of excellence are how we deliver our best every day.”

By Dudley Brown