A solution to the congestion in the Knorr Dining Room may come soon.
Bon Appétit Management Company
is planning to open a “grab and go” shop on the ground floor of Kendall Hall to draw some of the crowd from the cafeteria during peak lunchtime hours on the weekdays. David Apthorpe, general manager of Hillsdale Bon Appétit, said the shop is slated to open for lunch on March 26, though its hours still are yet to be determined.
“As the college expands, if it wants to expand, we are looking at a lack of dining seats, especially Monday, Wednesday, and Friday lunch,” Apthorpe said. “We really wanted to be able to add some flexibility to the meal plan.”
Differing from Jitters Coffee Cart and A.J.’s Café that only take Liberty Bucks, the grab and go would allow students on a meal plan to trade a meal swipe in the cafeteria for a meal bundle. Apthorpe said it would likely include a choice of ansandwich or salad, a snack option such as chips, a dessert, and a drink. Vegetarian and gluten-free options also would be available.
“And then you’re off,” Apthorpe said. “The idea is to build it for speed and efficiency.”
The idea comes from Apthorpe’s time at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio. A library there holds a Grab It! station, open from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on weekdays.
“It works really well at Case, because it’s a big school, so if you can’t make it to one of the dining halls there, you can grab something there,” Apthorpe said. “That’s not the case here.”
Nonetheless, Apthorpe said given the dining seating shortage in the Grewock Student Union, he hopes it could relieve some pressure on the union’s kitchen staff as well as provide students with a portable food option not easily available in the cafeteria.
Several students said the option excited them, noting that sometimes students are waiting in line for 10 minutes during the noon-hour peak.
“I think it’s a good idea,” freshman Gabe Kramer said. “It’s super busy downstairs, and for those with a noon or 1 p.m., it would be nice to have another option.”
Sophomore Victoria Addis agreed, adding that it could be helpful for students with busy schedules.
“I know people that would skip meals, because they didn’t have the time,” Addis said. “I think this is a really good option.”
She, however, said her one concern would be that students wouldn’t get enough food since the cafeteria’s buffet-style service allows for more than one serving.
Apthorpe said the meal exchange option in the past has been available at A.J.’s Café but he is doubtful that it would be an effective solution now.
“We’ve considered that, but A.J.’s is pretty busy as is,” Apthorpe said. “We don’t know if it can handle the throughput, creating more problems than we’re solving.”
The Searle Center’s kitchen would make the meals for the new shop. Bon Appétit is holding off the grab and go’s opening until the end of March to best implement the new production after the final Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar of the academic year and Parents Weekend.
Apthorpe said Bon Appétit has hired a few new employees recently, though the new shop could mean two additional hires. Ideally he said he would like to see student cashiers running the new grab and go as well.
The company also would add a menu for the new shop on its website: hillsdale.cafebonappetit.com.
Apthorpe said the college has been helpful with efforts to alleviate overcrowding in the cafeteria. It removed a seating area in an alcove in Kendall to make room for the grab and go, moving the chairs there to another lounge on the west end of the building and two of the chairs to the third floor of Kendall for a new small study area.
Freshman Jack Smith said although there seems to be a few more people in the lounges in Kendall, he likes the new study space.
“It was the only seat I found that wasn’t taken by 20 humans,” Smith said. “It’s good for waiting for my class.”
Ultimately, though, the hope is that the changes in Kendall will benefit campus as a whole.
“Everybody is working toward the same goal, which is student satisfaction,” Apthorpe said.