Campus dining additions see early success

GVL / Emily Frye
Vice President-Educational Affairs Maria Beelen shares a positive word on Oct. 1st.

GVL / Emily Frye Vice President-Educational Affairs Maria Beelen shares a positive word on Oct. 1st.

Jess Hodge

Business, high-tech equipment, new apps and, most importantly, food were the main topics on the plates of the student senators when they were joined by campus dining representatives during their meeting on Thursday.

Deb Rambadt, campus dining marketing manager, and Chris Uhl, campus dining director of operations, spoke to the Grand Valley State University student senate about how business is going for the new food options on campus, the new cooking technologies they received and also addressed issues about slow lines and the service of various dining locations.

Rambadt explained that as the largest student employer on campus, campus dining has about 1,000 employees, with many of them brand new to their job, adjusting to the environment and still training.

“We really appreciate your patience with us,” she said. “The first few weeks are a little bit cumbersome trying to get everyone trained and working at capacity.”

Uhl went into some statistics of each new building and how many students they had served in the first four weeks of school. Every company had a decrease in sales in the second week, which Uhl attributed to Labor Day weekend, as the stores were closed more days than normal.

Which Wich started off serving 1,583 students its first week of school and increased to 1,882 students served by the fourth week. This averages about 300 transactions per day from Monday through Thursday, which Uhl noted is “significant for brands like Which Wich.”

The Starbucks in the Laker Marketplace has also done well, which Uhl said was to be expected. The number of students served went from 3,658 in the first week to 4,190 during the fourth week.

“The Starbucks brand is a strong brand,” Uhl said. “It was one we were very excited about bringing on to campus. And we’ve seen the sales to support that.”

The newly expanded Subway, located in the Kirkhof Center Lobby Shop has done the most transactions out of any other food option on the Allendale Campus. The number of students served increased from 9,825 during the first week to 13,944 during the fourth week of school. Uhl attributes this increase to the Subway moving upstairs.

Panda Express is another new addition to campus, located in the Kirkhof Center, where the bookstore used to be. It served 2,472 students during the first week and increased to serving 4,731 by the fourth week of school.

“We’re averaging just under 1,000 people a day going through Panda Express,” Uhl said. “We would like to see that trend continue, and obviously, we would like to work on our efficiency and our service.”

Since the Subway moved upstairs, that gave room to move the Croutons salad station into the former Subway area and build Ciao, a make-your-own pizza and pasta dining option. However, what Uhl is most excited about is not the menu, it’s the new piece of technology that Ciao uses.

“We brought a new piece of equipment onto campus that nobody has in the state of Michigan,” he said. “It’s a turbo chef oven which cooks your individual pizza from dough to cooked in about a minute and a half to two minutes.”

The lower level of Kirkhof, now called Fusion, served 2,407 students in the first of school and increased to 4,461 students during the fourth week.

Rambadt also talked about a newest version of the campus dining mobile app, called Campus Dish. The app is blue, unlike to older white version, and it allows students easier access to their balance, connects them with MyFitnessPal and provides healthy dining information.

While campus dining is excited about the early success of the new food options on campus, there are a few more things to work out for the future of campus dining. Student senate Vice President for public relations Ella Fritzemeier asked what will replace the Einstein Bros. Bagels when it moves into the new housing location under construction in Robinson Field.

“With Einstein moving into that new space, we’re still undetermined about how to move into the future with the Commons,” Uhl explained. “In a few weeks or months, the food committee will reveal those new plans.”

Rambadt added that they are open to suggestions for ideas about what new company to bring to campus next.