The return to classes at the beginning of the spring semester came with many frustrations among students as a result of long lines, closures, and slow service at dining locations across campus.
Campus dining director Glenn Loughridge explained that the limited options introduced at the beginning of the semester were partially due to issues with employee availability at restaurants that have been overwhelmed by the number of orders received.
“We try to put hours [in] when we feel like students are going to be here and be active on campus … based on what fall looked like … we were thinking it would be a slow ramp up with students coming back and that was clearly not the case, so we adjusted as quickly as possible,” according to Loughridge.
The disparities between student activity in the fall semester and so far in the spring have caused Campus Dining to struggle to make scheduling decisions which led to overwhelming lines and wait times at popular dining options, most notably Chick-fil-A in the Student Center.
“We were a little surprised by some of the numbers we got back. Last week Chick-fil-A, in particular, was overwhelming, especially with the new Grubhub system and so [Campus Dining] has tried to pivot quickly.”
Specifically, the new Grubhub check-in system has contributed to abnormal wait times at Chick-fil-A in the Student Center. Loughridge said that the system was implemented by Chick-fil-A, not Campus Dining, to provide the freshest food possible to students. Campus dining is currently in talks with Chick-fil-A and Grubhub to reach a compromise between Chick-fil-A’s desire to put out quality, fresh food and Auburn’s need to get food to students promptly.
Additionally, many students have wondered about the fate of dining options like Au Bon Pain and the Wellness Kitchen which have both been mostly closed since the fall semester.
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Loughridge stated that Wellness Kitchen will remain athletes only for a few weeks in response to possible spikes in COVID-19 cases.
“We want students to eat where they want to eat but we are also trying to make sure that our student-athletes can compete,” Loughridge said.
“[The closure of Au Bon Pain] was really about the rules from the CDC … so much of Au Bon Pain is grab-and-go and self-service ,so that made it very difficult to [run] safely,” according to Loughridge. “Au Bon Pain is coming back, we are hoping early February.”
Currently, many options are open right now except for Au Bon Pain in the Student Center and the Wellness Kitchen.
“Au Bon Pain is going to take a little bit longer because [it] was closed in the fall so we have to rehire staff, reestablish supplies, and those types of things,” Loughridge said.
When asked about the complaints against campus dining, Loughridge said that the biggest mistake Campus Dining made was not being completely open the first day of the spring semester.
“Clearly, we stumbled out of the gate, but [we] hope to make it up to students quickly,” he said. “I think you’ll see throughout the semester a much more normal campus as far as the options and hours … I think we are full speed ahead,” according to Loughridge.
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