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New Chopping Block

In classic westerns, when their trusty steeds reached the end of the line, cowboys would put Ol’ Paint out of its misery with a bullet to the dome.

In a bit of poetic symmetry, Beacon College is putting down its venerable dining facility, The Chopping Block — once a country-and-western themed local haunt, not with a bullet, but the wrecking ball. Construction soon begins on a wholly renovated dining commons to replace the long-in-the-tooth campus eatery.

Old Chopping Block
Old Chopping Block

“The existing Chopping Block … is closing out its useful life as a dining option,” said Beacon President George J. Hagerty. “The facility itself is outdated and increasingly compromised with poor patron service flow.”

To serve the college’s growing student body and provide a modernized, appealing dining venue, the college greenlit a $2.3 million total reconstruction of the Chopping Block. Led by Schmid Construction of Clermont, Fla., the renovation will feature an open and modern interior design and serve 225 students at a time, with both indoor and outdoor seating options. One vestige of the Chopping Block will remain: the historic brick wall that Leesburg citizens consider an important feature.

The renovated structure will feature 5,800 square feet of space indoor, plus approximately 1,200 square feet in outdoor dining. That includes a portico and outdoor grilling area.

The facility currently is unnamed. The college hopes to interest a donor hungry for a naming opportunity.

In June 2010, Beacon purchased the old Chopping Block Restaurant, 117 W. Main St., for a dining hall. For a decade, it served as the school cafeteria, serving three meals a day during the calendar year.

With the Chopping Block out of commission, the college has converted a portion of the school’s Student Center into a temporary dining commons, complete with an adjacent mobile kitchen.

“Sodexo and college personnel have done a masterful job in recreating a multi-purpose environment that combines spaces for dining and social/recreational activities,” Hagerty said.

Meanwhile, the coronavirus pandemic put the Chopping Block demolition on pause. School officials expect razing now to begin sometime between April 15 and May 1.

The new dining commons is expected to be ready to serve up eats by November 15.