February 28, 2022
The New Mexico Highlands University Purple Grill will be reopening to the public on March 10 at noon with a special menu, entertainment, and a chance to win Highlands swag through a raffle drawing.
The Purple Grill is a new name for the Highlands University dining hall and was chosen by Highlands student board of regent member, Chris Ulibarri. In addition to receiving a new name, the Purple Grill has been renovated in preparation for reopening to the public following COVID-19 closures.
According to Denise Montoya, the associate vice president for Finance & Administration, the Purple Grill, which contracts with Sodexo, is under the new leadership of operations manager, Janice Gallegos.
“Janice comes to us with some wonderful ho
spitality and customer service experience, and she brings with her fresh ideas,” said Montoya. “I want to also give kudos to Dennis Rivera, Freddie Martinez, Greg Martinez, and Sylvia Baca who worked hard during the renovation despite the pandemic delays. We have one of the best facility teams in higher education.”
Dennis Rivera, general maintenance manager at Highlands, said the renovations came together due to many people working together.
“We renovated tilework and we did a lot of painting and arranged new signage. We also got a new salad bar, beverage station, and new countertops,” said Rivera. “It looks really updated now.”
The March 10 reopening event is a celebration of the efforts that have gone into the Purple Grill’s renovation as well to welcome back students, staff, faculty, and community members. The menu for the event will include fried chicken, smash burgers, red and green enchiladas, posole, mac and cheese, and a salad bar.
“I know the community has been very anxious to come back. In previous years, the dining hall was really busy with a lot of business folks from around the area,” said Gallegos. “We want to see that again, even though COVID is here, and we still will take precautions.”
Community members attending the event will automatically be entered into a raffle drawing with the purchase of their meal. Highlands University president Sam Minner will speak at noon, and the Highlands Madrigal Choir will perform, in addition to individual solo artists and instrumentalists. In addition, attendees will be able to participate in table game tournaments in Student Union Building, and new Highlands swag from the university bookstore will be available for purchase.
Following the event on March 10, the Purple Grill will remain open to the public. Due to increases in the costs of food and labor, meals for community members will be $9 per person for the all-you-can-eat buffet. Faculty and staff will continue to pay $6.50 per meal until further notice. Gallegos said the menu has been updated to provide more variety, and there is always at least one vegetarian option available.
Gallegos said there are special nights planned in the coming months, with steak night coming up on March 31. The Purple Grill calendar is available to community members who want to see what’s on the menu.
Linda Anderle, community liaison for Highlands, said she’s glad to be able to return to the Purple Grill for her weekly lunches, and she hopes to see other community regulars there as well.
“I was there every Thursday, and I always knew at least half a dozen people from the community at lunch,” said Anderle.
Gallegos said the Purple Grill adheres to the COVID-19 guidelines followed by all restaurants. At this time, these guidelines do not limit capacity, but Gallegos said there are disposable gloves available at the salad bar and all Sodexo employees wear masks at all times.
Montoya said she encourages everyone to attend the March 10 reopening.
“Come early to enjoy a meal with students, faculty, staff, and the community; bring your friends and colleagues,” Montoya said. “Let’s have a good time celebrating all the good work that continues to happen at Highlands despite COVID. ”