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Capitol Culture: Capitol Cafeteria Remodeld and Revitalized

by Collin Reischman

The House cafeteria, located in the basement of the Capitol building, was in dire need of renovation, according to Capitol Director of Operations, Brad Werner. photo copy

“It’s been over 30 years since anything new was done with that space,” Werner said. “It was completely gutted. The walls are new, we upgraded the ventilation system, and we refurbished the kitchen equipment.”

The Bureau of Disability Services ran the cafeteria for many years. But the Department no longer wanted to operate the space, and renovations not only improved the space itself, but also helped attract new vendors. The renovation cost approximately $400,000, Werner said.

Peachtree Catering, based out of Columbia, is currently operating the cafeteria. General Manager and Executive Chef Benjamin Hamrah said he’d received “wonderful” feedback on the new space.

“[Peachtree Catering] is much, much better equipped to operate that space, and we’re thrilled to have them,” Werner said.

The reception among the legislators and other Capitol employees has been overwhelmingly positive.

“People have really, really liked it so far,” Hamrah said. “We’re kind of trial-by-fire right now. We haven’t really done this before, but we’re happy about the opportunity.”

The cafeteria has a daily menu consisting of burgers, chicken fingers and chicken breasts with hand-cut fries. Two rotating items, the Chef Table Special and the Action Station, will change daily. There is also a salad station and a variety of drinks. Hours of operation during the session are Monday-Friday, 7am-4pm.

Hamrah says they are currently exploring staying open later during part of the week, if there is enough demand. Peachtree will also be offering catering services in the Capitol building itself.

“We’ve got a lot of meat-and-potatoes type eaters,” Hamrah said. “For us, it’s about providing something that is quality for these folks that isn’t going to break the bank for anyone.”