A Heidelberg University administrator said Saturday was a day of celebration for people sitting at the heartbeat of campus.
Heidelberg dedicated The University Commons, which is connected to Residence Life and Learning Hall, Saturday evening.
President Robert Huntington recalled people wearing orange shirts creating the footprint of the construction project during the building's groundbreaking ceremony.
"Here we are, 55 weeks later," he said.
The University Commons features Fireside Cafe Pub, a balcony lounge, a walk-out patio, a fireplace and Wi-Fi access, according to information from the university. It was constructed with assistance from University Housing Solutions and ARAMARK.
Thomas George, district manager of dining services for ARAMARK Higher Education, said he hoped for many years students, faculty, staff and the building's residents would enjoy the building and area.
"I wish I had something like this when I went to school," he said.
Cody Waterman, a junior from Mentor studying history and religion, said the commons brings excitement and a sense of community to an already vibrant campus. He said he enjoyed a complimentary meal there Thursday and returned twice Friday and once Saturday. It is something the student body, faculty and staff can enjoy, he said.
Frank Murphy, chairman of the board for University Housing Solutions, said he had no idea the building was going to work out as well as it did.
"(Heidelberg officials) were real educators, if you will," he said.
Fireside Cafe Pub opened Friday, and Huntington said its sales were more than double those of Rock Creek Cafe on a typical Friday.
Dustin Brentlinger, dean of student affairs, said the food service won't be at Rock Creek Cafe, but the room is going to remain open as a place for students to gather.
"We may reopen (the food service), depending on needs," he said.
At Fireside Cafe Pub, customers order food at the counter, and it is taken to their table. The menu is eclectic and is more upscale than the menu that was at Rock Creek Cafe, he said.
The restaurant also serves beer and wine and has a 10-seat bar. Brentlinger said the school always has allowed alcohol on campus, with stipulations.
"It's always been very controlled," he said.
Students can use Berg Bucks, which are part of their meal plan, and the community can use money at the restaurant, Brentlinger said. The university added 29 public parking spaces and 45 student spaces behind the building.
"The goal is very much to get the public in," he said.
Brentlinger said he has gotten many positive comments from students about the building.
"They were here late last night, which was wonderful. ... It was packed yesterday," he said.
The university is starting another construction project. It broke ground Oct. 1 for Saurwein Health & Wellness Center, to be built off the side of Seiberling Gymnasium. Construction is to be completed Aug. 1.
In the fall, Heidelberg is to offer a new multi-disciplinary major designed to help students launch careers in health care, and a pre-professional curriculum option is to be available for students planning to pursue graduate studies in therapy, chiropractic and physician assistant studies, according to a release.