In an effort to curb the potential for transmission of COVID-19, A.J.’s Cafe is now one of multiple new meal-swipe stations on campus, and will no longer be making sandwiches and snacks to order.
Transitioning from a cafe to a meal spot, A.J.’s joins the new stations in Lane and the Old Snack Bar as Bon Appetit and campus administrators work to channel foot traffic away from the Knorr Family Dining Room.
A.J.’s changes were conveyed to student employees just days before the start of the semester.
“If I’m completely honest, it’s been pretty hard,” said senior Michaela Frohnen, the student manager. “We used to be a cafe, making sandwiches and salads, then all of a sudden we’re not.”
Though the cafe’s coffee and ice cream remain available all day, its main function is now to serve “hot bowls,” hot boxed meals, for lunch and dinner. The three bowl options currently have an Asian theme, but this flavor profile will change every 45 days with Indian and Latin inspired bowls slated for later this semester.
Items that were previously available at A.J.’s for purchase with Liberty Bucks, such as candy, chips, energy drinks, and juice, now can be found in the Old Snack Bar, also known as the C Store.
“We didn’t get rid of anything,” Frohnen said. “We just moved it.”
Frohnen added that the new schedule of what can be purchased and when has been confusing to students. Meal swipes are only accepted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for lunch in A.J.’s, and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. for dinner. Liberty Bucks can still be used to purchase coffee and ice cream throughout the day.
“It’s becoming easier as we get used to the new system,” Frohnen said. “We all understand that this is what A.J.’s has to do this semester, but that it won’t be this strange meal swipe place forever. We’ll eventually be back to our old cafe, hopefully by next semester.”
Though the changes are not intended to be permanent, many students say they like the new routine.
“I like the freedom of not being confined to eating at Saga. I find it less stressful,” said senior Alex Reid. “The bowls are like bento boxes, and the world cuisine makes me feel like I’m at Epcot every day.”
Heidi Yacoubian, a senior who has worked at A.J.’s since her freshman year, said the new set up is a “faster and more effective” method of food service.
“But it does change the job a lot, because it’s so much faster paced,” Yacoubian said. “It’s more about getting people in and out rather than spending time chatting over the counter. But I think they’ve made good changes given the circumstances.”
She also urged students to express appreciation for the new chefs helping behind the scenes.
“The chefs and workers that they’ve had coming from other schools are working so hard, and they’re super appreciative,” she said. “So just to say thank you to them whenever you get a chance.”