Delays caused by long lines at Student Center Commons

Students wanting to try the new dining options at the Student Center Commons food court were greeted with long lines and difficulty in finding a place to eat in the recently renovated area.

“I have certainty observed lines and have been down there many times, and I think much of what we are seeing right now are bigger crowds than we expected because of the novelty of it,” said Rich Steele, director of the Student Center.

The Subway, Taco Bell and the expanded Chick-fil-a, relocated from its location on the second floor food court, are drawing larger crowds than expected. Steele points to the novelty of the new options for the spike in traffic.

“We originally anticipated that we would be doing 50 percent of all the business that happens at Food Court on the second floor [at the new area]. Right now we are running at 75 percent of the daily business. So it is much more than we expected,” Steele said.

With the facilities being new, many of the employees are still learning most of the techniques required for efficient operations.

“Our Subway opened last Friday…, so our operations will absolutely speed up, as [the employees] get more familiar with the products,” Steele said.

Crowds are also expected to decrease as people adjust their schedules to avoid the high volume times, which makes the overcrowding problem more pronounced during the early part of the semester.

“Typically in the beginning of the fall semester there is a period of time where people are determining what time they will go to eat lunch…. [The crowd] has a tendency to naturally sort itself out as people self-regulate when they go to lunch based on the crowds,” Steele said.

There have also been complaints from students that the area that encompasses the food court has had sanitation problems, with tables being dirty and trash littering the floors.

“Our staff met [Wednesday] afternoon about better solutions to keep the place clean and policed. We are absolutely aware that the volume of traffic is drawing more trash, and we are changing some things to stay on top of it,” Steele said.

The food court on the second floor experienced similar situations in previous years before the opening of the separate food court on the first floor. The new options were designed to help alleviate such congestion issues. The second floor food court also saw new options roll out this week. Zaya, serving Mediterranean cuisine, and Spice Cafe, which offers Indian food, opened.

“Our mentality in developing the Commons court was based on the fact that the food court was overcrowded. There were too many of people trying to get food. There were too many lines of people trying to check out. Trying to find a seat was too difficult. So we knew we needed to off load some of that volume,” Steele said.

The new offerings also hope to provide easily accessible options for people at the new Clough Undergraduate Learning Commons (CULC), when it opens next year in the fall.

“The front door of the Clough building will be just a few steps from the Student Center, so if students want more substantial food they can just walk right down the side walk,” Steele said.