University of Maryland department leaders gathered at the Residence Hall Association’s town hall Tuesday to provide several updates, including Panera Bread’s opening timeline, Chestertown Hall’s temporary closing and Chick-fil-A’s relocation.

Here are the key updates students heard from leaders in university departments such as Resident Life, Dining Services and Facilities Maintenance at the semesterly town hall.

Panera Bread in Stamp Student Union will open in May

The long-awaited Panera Bread in Stamp Student Union is slated to open around mid-May, according to Joe Mullineaux, Dining Services’ interim director.

“We’re getting ready,” Mullineaux said. “It will happen.”

Dining Services plans to soft-open the restaurant in May and will host a grand opening in September, he said.

Panera was originally scheduled to open in fall 2022, but faced delays with equipment sourcing, operational issues and finalizing contracts.

[The bread rises: Stamp Panera expected to open in April]

Chestertown Hall will temporarily shut down to install air conditioning

Chestertown Hall, a dorm in the Cambridge Community, will shut down this May to install air conditioning, according to John Blackwood, Facilities Maintenance’s associate director. Construction will begin this summer and take about one year to complete. The 122-bed dorm is scheduled to reopen in fall 2025, Blackwood said.

Resident Life has kept an eye on the number of students returning to on-campus dorms next year to ensure it would be feasible to shut down Chestertown Hall, according to the department’s director Dennis Passarella-George.

“It’s difficult for us any time we close one of the residence halls, but it’s also important for us that we have the opportunity to update our facilities,” Passarella-George said.

Stamp Student Union’s Chick-fil-A is moving to the other side of the food court

The Chick-fil-A in Stamp will move from its current location in the food court to the space Roy Rogers formerly occupied, Mullineaux said.

The new space, which is 60 percent larger than the current Chick-fil-A location, will significantly increase production, Mullineaux said. Once in the new location, the Chick-fil-A will feature self-service kiosks along with cashiers.

Students can expect to see Chick-fil-A in the new location starting in December, Mullineaux said. Stamp’s leadership and Dining Services are still choosing a new establishment to occupy the old Chick-fil-A location, he added.

“We have a couple of different concepts we’re exploring and we’ll be submitting to the Stamp advisory board,” Mullineaux said.

Dining Services reaffirmed its commitment to providing inclusive food options

Dining Services is working hard to ensure food options in the dining halls meet the needs of all students at this university, Mullineaux said.

[Chefs highlight their backgrounds, personalities through takeovers in the dining hall]

Dining Services enhanced its halal options at 251 North this semester by creating a new area that serves Zabiha halal food, Mullineaux said. This food undergoes more extensive meat preparation than general halal options, according to the American Halal Institute.

Dining Services also hopes to serve more kosher food in the dining halls. Currently, students who eat kosher can purchase a meal plan from Maryland Hillel, which offers a full kosher meal plan that is separate from this university’s dining plans.

As Hillel plans to relocate to a new building next year, Dining Services will explore the possibility of operating its kosher kitchen and dining room, Mullineaux said. Dining Services may also consider adding a dairy kosher kitchen to 251 North, but high expenses might be a challenge, he added.

Inclusive dining has been one of Dining Services’ goals “for a long time,” Mullineaux said.

“We are still closer than we were two years ago,” he said. “There’s still a lot of unanswered challenges.”