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Rehabilitation Services wants to renovate underused cafeteria area in Building 7 at Capitol

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Capitol Complex employees could have a new lunch option on campus, with the state Division of Rehabilitation Services seeking permission to renovate an underused cafeteria area in the Caperton Center.

Located between the Building 5 and 6 office towers on the Capitol Complex, in recent years, the Building 7 cafeteria space has had vending machines only.

"The intent is to renovate that space, and update it with some new equipment to get back to providing short-order menu items," Tracy Carr, division spokeswoman, said Wednesday.

The operator of the Capitol food court, Terry Arthur, would also run the Building 7 cafeteria, she said.

Arthur took over management of the $3.7 million Capitol food court in January 2012, after two previous operators had bowed out in its first four years of operations.

Currently, Arthur provides a limited lunch menu in Building 7, with food sent over from the Capitol kitchen in a catering cart, she said.

Carr said the Capitol food court has grown its lunch business to the point where competition from Building 7 should not be a factor.

"We think this is a good plan for the customers and for Mr. Arthur's business plan," she said.

Prior to taking over the Capitol food court, Arthur operated a snack bar in the Capitol's West Wing, providing sandwiches, salads, and hot meal options. The snack bar closed in January 2012, and now is a vending area.

Arthur's company also provides catering for meetings and conferences at the Caperton Center, and would be able to make use of upgraded facilities in Building 7 for catering.

In 2009, the Department of Administration spent $450,000 updating the conference center, adding amenities including wireless high-speed Internet, video conferencing and work stations to the center's meeting rooms and conference space.

Carr said costs of the cafeteria renovations are not finalized, but said it will be paid for entirely from revenue from state highway rest area vending machines, operated by Rehabilitation Services under the Randolph-Sheppard Act.

Rehabilitation Services officials will make a presentation next week to the Capitol Building Commission.

By law, the commission must approve any significant physical changes to buildings on the Capitol Complex, but Carr said the division does not anticipate any problems getting its proposal approved, since it involves upgrading an existing food service facility.

Reach Phil Kabler at philk@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1220.


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