Campus Dining Changes Sparks Debate

Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS) and Sodexo have made several recent changes to late night dining across campus.

After enacting late night dining hours in the Student Union (SU) building at the beginning of the 2012-13 academic year, CAS and Sodexo terminated them after the second week of the fall 2013 semester. In place of SU food vendors, Hugo’s dining will remain open until 10 p.m.

The changes came a semester after Oscar’s was reintroduced to campus life, after having been shut down during the fall 2012 semester and was reopened at the beginning of the spring 2013 semester. Oscar’s now offers several new dining options, including food specials from local food restaurants, grocery items and a wrap station.

Aside from Hugo’s, all food vendors in the SU are open until 7 p.m. The change was made due to the drop in revenue at SU food vendors once Oscar’s reopened last spring.

“When we moved Oscar’s back into that space, we saw a 75 percent drop in revenue at the SUB,” General Manager in the Food Service Administration Office Diane Jackson said.

CAS Director Steve Deutsch said the only vendor in the SUB that continued to make a profit once Oscar’s reopened was Tokyo Sushi. Jackson said the average hourly profit for Pandini’s between 8-10 p.m. was $127.53, while Mojavista’s and SUB Connection’s hourly average between 7-10 p.m. were $53.75 and $39.43, respectively.

Director of Student Activities and Union Services Mike Patterson said the construction of the Atrium was intended to include the usage of food services and thus make the building the “epicenter and social life on campus.”

“The food service was the convenience and need for students to be here,” Patterson said. “The marriage of food services and the new atrium facility were the intent of the construction project, and I think we saw that and still see that.”

Hugo’s is now the only late night dining option in the SU building. Patterson said while Hugo’s has expanded its menu beyond fine dining, he has several concerns about the success of the new eatery.

He said his worries about the Hugo’s program are affordability, visibility, convenience and options.

“Students cannot afford and sustain eating at Hugo’s throughout the semester,” Patterson said. “It worked out really well when it was offered several times last year, but it isn’t sustainable if the goal is to have two to three meals here a week. However, from my understanding, this has been taken care of.”

Jackson said while Hugo’s started only as fine dining when it ran weekly last semester, it now offers an A la Carte menu that has low-cost food options ranging from $4.99 to $8.99. She also said that more late-night dining options are set to be added in the near future.

“There are some students who would like to see the SU building open until late night, and we have no problem accomodating that,” Jackson said.  “Pomodoro’s pizza will open by the end of October. We’re going to have that open until 10 p.m. and it’s going to offer things like burgers, chicken wings and pizza by the slice.”

Fourth-year secondary education major Faiqa Amreen said she’s concerned about the lack of convenience concerning late-night dining and lack of additional funds given to students in relation to the Hugo’s menu.

“There’s nowhere to eat after 7 p.m. unless you walk to Oscar’s or order pizza from Hasbrouck,” Amreen said. “If I’m looking for something to eat at night after class, I don’t want to have to sit down and wait for it.”

Patterson said while he wants Hugo’s to be successful, he also hopes that late-night dining in the SU building will continue even if it isn’t.

“My concern is that if Hugo’s is ultimately not successful, I hope the result is not a complete termination of food services after 7 p.m. and on weekends,” Patterson said. “My expectations are still late night food services that exist in the SU regardless of how the Hugo’s trial works. If we don’t have food service late night,  I think it would have a negative impact on campus life and it would  have an impact on what students use this facility for.”