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More space in a new place; bookstore opens in former cafeteria

August 13, 2003

Not a tray was in sight as students made their way into the former Catherine Evans Harvill Cafeteria this week. Gone were hot food lines and piles of plates. Food smells had given way to the distinct smell of newly printed books.

The old cafeteria is now home of the new Austin Peay Book & Supply Store.

With three adjoining "rooms," displaying logo clothing and gifts, school supplies and textbooks, respectively, the 9,569-square-feet space is a vast improvement over its predecessor.
August 13, 2003

Not a tray was in sight as students made their way into the former Catherine Evans Harvill Cafeteria this week. Gone were hot food lines and piles of plates. Food smells had given way to the distinct smell of newly printed books.

The old cafeteria is now home of the new Austin Peay Book & Supply Store.

With three adjoining "rooms," displaying logo clothing and gifts, school supplies and textbooks, respectively, the 9,569-square-feet space is a vast improvement over its predecessor.

The project started Jan. 12, "the day we got a huge snowfall," says Johnny Simons, project superintendent for Corporate Construction, the Nashville firm charged with the renovation.

But the snow wasn't the biggest challenge of the project, he adds. "Hauling the old kitchen equipment out was." Stoves, sinks and especially the walk-in cooler were so big they had to be dismantled before they would fit through existing openings, Simons says.

The project was financed jointly by the University and by Follett, the company that manages the store. Austin Peay paid for renovations to the building's shell. Follett paid for the fixtures and other interior elements.

Walls were added, removed and relocated to accommodate the building's new function. A new elevator and loading dock were built. About the only things that didn't change were the restrooms at the front of the building.

"We pretty much gutted the space," Simons says.

He describes the five-month project as a "nightmare," one hampered by no-show subs and other problems.

But the result is spectacular. The new opening to the store is wide and welcoming, with flooring that has the look of wood but is actually a durable rubber-based product.

Just beyond the vestibule, in the clothing and gift section, the wood-look flooring gives way to carpet in warm browns, golds and russets. Pale butterscotch walls add to the warmth of the space.

In the center of the store, five two-faced shelving units hold every type of school supply possible. Binders line the shelves on the room's perimeter.

At the rear of the facility, a half-dozen or so freestanding shelving units hold row after row of textbooks, as do shelves that line the walls, each clearly marked with the course number, course name and instructor.

It's an enormous change from the functional but cold and cavernous space where students once shopped for books and supplies. "It's awesome," said Dr. David Denton, interim dean for the College of Social Sciences and Professional Programs. "Just super."

Clearly, this cafeteria-turned-bookstore really cooks.