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Dining Downsize Leaves Students Hungry for More

Santiago Ochoa & Hailey Andres

Santiago Ochoa & Hailey Andres

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This year, the food options on campus have changed dramatically and many students aren’t happy. Many have been upset over the loss of Erbert & Gerbert’s, as well as Riverview Dining, and Oriental Express. Many are asking why these places have closed, limiting the food options on campus.

How did their demises come about? In the fall of 2008, the university first announced meal plans for students that lived on campus and with that decision, Riverview Dining and The Grille were created.

According to Jennifer Hogan, co-director of event and building services, the university signs a multi-year contract with Sodexo, a life services company that facilitates the food for the school. Since Sodexo is an international brand, they partner with brands like Starbucks and Erbert & Gerbert’s. In 2012, both Starbucks and Erbert & Gerbert’s opened at the university. Before moving to the first floor of the University Center last winter, Starbucks was on the third floor sharing a storefront with Erbert & Gerbert’s and profit was steady, but annoying for the businesses to be under the same roof.

“Having them both operate caused some confusion and the lunch rush was ridiculous,” said Hogan.

Early in 2017, Starbucks, also known as Café Blue, moved to the first floor of the University Center in place of an information desk. Since its move, the café has become the most profitable food services on campus, pulling business from Erbert & Gerbert’s. Due to the loss of profit and the company’s contract coming to an end, closing was inevitable, according to Hogan.

“We want to make everyone feel comfortable in the fact they always have good food available for them at school,” said Hogan.

With restaurants, bistros, or any food establishment there is food waste, but how does 80 pounds of food being wasted every day sound? Riverview Dining was getting so few students eating there last year that that much food was being wasted, even with the university donating much of it. Due to this, the decision was made to close in the spring, says Gina Rose, meal plans food systems specialist.

The University Pavilion has also been going under renovation after the departure of Oriental Express, adding a new option to its current list. But some students, like Jamari Forest, a junior studying communications, miss Oriental Express.

“It was one of my favorite food spots on-campus, but I do like shawarma, so I am not extremely sad,” said Forest.

In place of Oriental Express, Shawerma Bite will be opening, with its specialty being chicken shawarma. According to Judy Birschbach, co-director of event and building services, the remodel was suppose to be done before the current semester, but a few technical difficulties have postponed the grand opening.

One of the other new food options that has been offered on campus are food trucks. The food trucks being on campus was an idea from Rose after she went to the Grand Blanc Food Truck Festival. The food trucks that come to campus on Wednesdays are the Squeals on Wheels, which is a BBQ oriented truck, and the Cheese Trap, which is a grilled cheese oriented truck.

Rose not only brought the idea to campus, but also made it accessible for students that have meal plans to use their Maize Money at the trucks. Although the trucks will not longer be coming to campus due to winter approaching, students can expect to see them, and and more, in the future.

“We know that the students are tired of the same food so the food trucks bring a little more variety and also, they are absolutely delicious,” said Rose.

Students have also inquired about the time of operation changes for The Grille. While it is still available to enjoy, until all the new food establishments and plans come into affect, it will only be open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.

Many students are not happy about the changes, like Jack Tait, a sophomore studying nuclear engineering.

“I hated that they closed Erbert & Gerbert’s and having The Grille close at 4 p.m. is terrible,” said Tait.

However, as the university is going toward the future and developing little by little, Birschbach wants students to be patient for what is to come.

“We want the students to be ready for change and to pardon our dust as we make the university better for them,” said Birschbach.

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