Campus Auxiliary Services launched a series of campus-wide initiatives to alter its dining halls this semester.
These recent changes are made every year, as old students graduate and new students move in, according to CAS Executive Director Mark Scott.
“With [student turnover] comes new dining preferences, new taste preferences, new cultural concerns, new religious concerns,” he said. “We try to address those things both in anticipation of that new demand, but also just trying to stay ahead of the curve.”
Some of the more noticeable changes include the expansion of vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free options in dining halls around campus, like in Mary Jemison and Fusion Market, according to Managing Director of Restaurants and Cafes Jonna Anne.
CAS utilizes a series of surveys and interactions with students in order to gauge student feedback, according to Anne. Besides an annual survey that is sent out each October, CAS managers conduct spot surveys in restaurants and talk to staff members for their feedback.
“We try to take a look at what’s working well and what’s selling well to make sure that we keep those items,” Anne said. “When the want is not there, we change things up, whether it is an ingredient change or a whole menu item change.”
Psychology major sophomore Angela Catalano believes that increasing the number of vegan options will benefit most students.
“It’s really great that [CAS] provided vegan options,” she said. “It’s good not only to give vegans more choices, but to expose other people to delicious vegan food.”
Conversely, early childhood education major junior Danielle Angel dislikes some of the menu changes that CAS made this semester.
“I used to go to Fusion almost every day to get a sandwich from Clio’s,” she said. “I haven’t been back since they got rid of stuff like crispy onions and sweet potatoes. I don’t know why they decided to remove those options, since they seemed popular.”
CAS is similarly looking to improve the speed of its service this semester through online ordering and easier credit card use. To that end, CAS recently began implementing an online-ordering system, starting with a kiosk at Smokehouse Grill in Max Market; Starbucks and Uncle Vito’s will feature their own ordering kiosks soon, according to Anne.
“We have a kitchen display, which our customers don’t see, but our staff does and they’re able to know the orders immediately,” she said. “Now the preparation time is faster for the whole transaction, the whole time that our customer is there with us.”
Other changes include improving the electronic systems that are in place to accommodate students on meal plan, while also making it easier to pay when using credit cards or cash. In addition, CAS hopes to generally expand online ordering capabilities, according to Scott.
“We’ve been building reserves to make the investment in a brand-new point of sale system, which would give us online ordering capabilities,” Scott said. “We are in the 21st century and so we have to be where our guests are, where our patrons are and they live on the Internet.”
In addition to student and customer satisfaction, Scott believes that business and economic factors play a huge part in CAS’s decisions.
“We follow the trends we see happening in higher education dining,” he said. “We don’t want to be left behind, so we try to examine our operation. We want to understand where we can improve what we do.”u