Campus Auxiliary Services’s online ordering services have been down since the second week in November 2018. CAS announced on Tuesday Feb. 11 that online ordering services would return to regular operation for Red Jacket Dining Hall, Letchworth Dining Hall and the smoothie and deli stations in Mary Jemison Dining Hall.
The remainder of their locations are expected to be fully operational by the end of this week.
CAS Executive Chef Jonna Anne and CAS Co-Interim Executive Director Pamela Connor explained the struggle of working to get online ordering back online.
“We tried a couple times to bring the system back up. There was an issue with the program,” Anne said. “The program is not ours, it comes from Blackboard and it is called EPOS. They found a glitch in their software and it took so long to fix because it had to go through a full development program and testing. Essentially, they had to issue a new version of it to get it working.”
Connor spoke about CAS’s reliance on the EPOS system.
“The system has been up the entire time we have had it except when it went down in November,” Connor said. “Once the vendor released the system back to us last week, our IT department for CAS spent several days doing their own testing. They did it at 5 a.m. so that it wouldn’t affect students when they turned it on.”
Starbucks is among one of the locations that is currently not available for online ordering, according to Connor.
“Understand that [Starbucks] is the restaurant that the program is used for most,” Connor said. “We wanted to test the dining halls that are easier for the program to manage before we turn Starbucks on.”
Online ordering was introduced to the campus in spring 2018, according to CAS.
“Online ordering hasn’t really changed the working environment, but it has changed the timing,” Anne said. “Our online orders are what we consider as throttled. We take ‘x’ amount of online orders based on the amount of time because we have in-person customers.”
According to a news post by the college on Feb. 6, “the new initiative is part of Campus Auxiliary Service’s pursuit of enhanced services for customers.”
“We don’t have the crepe station at MJ added to the online ordering menu for this semester,” Anne said. “But there is always potential for us to add new stations. Before we plan to add more, we would like to ensure that the program is working as it should and that there are no glitches.”
A new stir-fry station has been added to the back of the Fusion Market that is exclusively for cooking Lotus online orders, according to CAS.
“Online ordering has let us set up stations a little different,” Anne said. “I wouldn’t say that online ordering has introduced difficulties for CAS, but adjustments are always made when a new menu or technology is introduced.”
When online orders come through, the CAS staff makes online orders in between each in-person order. Anne explained the process as one where “[CAS] takes a customer in front of us, and then do an online order. We repeat this process over and over.”
“The amount of orders we take is adjusted based on each station,” Anne said. “Butcher block is different than Smokehouse just because it is a different style of setup. With added technology, we are learning a new set of skills.”
According to the online ordering FAQ, “the back end of our Online Ordering system uses a throttling mechanism that scales back the number of online order pickup times available when the demand in the restaurant is high and makes more pickup times available when the demand is low. This ensures that the restaurant has the ability to make your food fresh and in time for you to enjoy.”
Philosophy and psychology double major senior Danielle DalPorto, who works at the MJ Hub Grill, explained her work experience with CAS while online ordering was down in a statement.
“Honestly there isn’t a huge difference when online ordering is down. We don’t get a ton of online orders and it’s not usually a big deal for whoever’s closest to take care of them,” DalPorto said. “It’s most noticeable when we’re super busy and have to focus on online orders when we have a super long line, but we generally time it pretty well.”