The University of Connecticut has temporarily closed the Chem Cafe, Wilbur Cross Cafes and The Bistro. They’ve also adjusted the hours for One Plate, Two Plate and Earth, Wok & Fire and opened Gelfenbien grab & go.
Dennis Pierce, executive director of dining services, said these decisions were made in response to data they had gathered throughout the semester. He noted that the numbers they are currently seeing are different from the numbers from the beginning of the semester.
“Everything, prior to this, is very lucid, and it’s flexible and evolving,” Pierce said. “We went through that window of quarantine, so that was one thing, then we went through that break between the end of quarantine and Labor Day. Classes are now in session and people are more engaged.”
According to Pierce, dining services began their plan for the fall semester in the spring. He said that this is part of why they need to change their plans as they adapt to the current information.
“We found out that, in reality, we didn’t need the retail operations to the degree that we did, which meant that … we had excess staff and the retail areas were not as much,”Dennis Pierce, Executive Director, UConn Dining Services
“We started this whole thing back in the spring. We didn’t know what would happen. We didn’t know our numbers,” Pierce said. “We were working with numbers in the seven thousand and eight thousand students on campus; that’s far from where we are right now.”
In addition to the issue of not knowing the number of students on campus, Pierce also said that they weren’t certain how much use the retail areas would get. He said that they are currently working with numbers quite different from their initial assumptions.
“We found out that, in reality, we didn’t need the retail operations to the degree that we did, which meant that … we had excess staff and the retail areas were not as much,” Pierce said.
Because of this, Pierce said that the Chem Cafe and Wilbur Cross Cafe will be temporarily closed. Additionally, both One Plate, Two Plate and Earth, Wok & Fire will be closed on weekends.
“The third thing is the business at the two kiosks, that’s One Plate, Two Plate and EWOK [Earth, Wok & Fire] … We had them open on weekends, and we’re doing absolutely no business, so we took them offline for the weekends, but you still have the food court, it’s not like you don’t have any options,” Pierce said.
Pierce assured that every employee at these facilities was given the opportunity to continue working at a different location. He said that they tried to be cognizant of their workers’ already existing schedules.
“Our goal, when we did that, is to have the least amount of impact on the individual,” Pierce said. “In other words, if a person had a schedule, our goal was to be able to maintain their schedule but in a different area.”
In addition to the closures and hour reductions, Pierce said that Gelfenbien grab & go will now be open every day for students to use. The menu is not fully expansive, but rather, he said it will be a middle ground between full meals and the more traditional grab & go.
“It’s not to be construed as a full meal,” Pierce said. “It’ll have variety, it’ll have vegetarian, it’ll have salads and all those kinds of things, so it’s a cross between a full meal and your traditional sandwich grab & gos.”