Bon Appetit makes changes to shorten wait time, eliminate theft

New registers in The Commons allow students to pay after they receive their meals

By Courtney Warta | August 28, 2017 8:50pm

Bon Appetit employee Joy Hergert rings up two sandwiches.
by Sarah Varney / The Beacon

The Bluff is crawling with hungry students, but many returners will be confused when they walk into Bauccio Commons this fall semester. Over summer vacation, The Commons underwent various renovations, and now, students won’t swipe their cards until after they receive their food.
In addition to changes implemented in The Commons, products available in Mack’s Market have changed, and a project to open an eatery in Lund Family Hall is in the works.
Kirk Mustain, general manager of Bon Appetit, explained that the changes in The Commons were made for a variety of reasons: cost, efficiency and a simplified process.
“We’re hoping it’s going to create a better flow,” Mustain said. “That’s our goal.”
Last year students paid for their meals at one of three cash registers and then swapped a receipt for food at their desired meal station. Now students order and receive their food before paying at the nearest register. 

Pilots use the new check-out system to buy lunch.
by Sarah Varney / The Beacon

In the past, many Pilots have struggled to navigate what they deem a confusing system in The Commons. Devan Freeman, who arrived on The Bluff last year as a freshman, said that she thinks this system will work better.
“It used to be a freshman right of passage, but (now) it is a lot more efficient, ” she joked.

Devan Freeman, sophomore, says she thinks the changes in The Commons are a good thing.
by Sarah Varney / The Beacon

In addition to relocating the registers to be closer to food stations, efforts to simplify UP's food experience include making almost all registers in The Commons cash-free. Now, you can use meal points and credit cards at all the registers, and patrons seeking to pay with cash can do so at the coffee bar. Mustain said he hopes that this will allow students to spend less time in line.
Mustain has incentivized the meal-point system to faculty and staff by offering a mug and unlimited free beverages for the year when they load at least $400 worth of meal points onto their ID cards.
To make room for the relocated registers, corner fridges have been removed. Mustain estimates that last year, about 2,000 items were taken from these fridges per week without payment. He jokingly called it the “complimentary free beverage program,” and said he hopes that these changes will eliminate the opportunity for theft in The Commons.
Sophomore Rachel Willson is worried that theft will remain a problem.
“I like that it’s more spread out so there’s not going to be two huge lines,” Wilson said. “But they have to rely on the integrity of the student to not walk away once they’ve gotten the food.”
Mustain said he hopes that with registers a mere 10 to 15 steps away and the removal of corner fridges, the number of items stolen should decrease.
Students will also begin to see fewer paper boxes in campus eateries— Bon Appetit is re-launching the Eco-Takeout program that will allow students to use plastic to-go boxes. Mustain said that this change will be both economically and environmentally beneficial.
Next week, Bon Appetit will be giving away 1,000 free plastic to-go boxes at pop-up stations on campus. After that, there will be a one-time charge of five dollars each for a multi-use container.
When the giveaway ends, students will be charged for single-use paper boxes.
Mustain said that in the 2016-2017 academic year, Bon Appetit spent more than $8,500 on paper boxes each week, so the move to a reusable box system seemed obvious. It was especially frustrating for him, he said, because often people ask for their food to-go, but then “most of them don’t even leave the room.”
The plan, Mustain said, is for Bon Appetit to implement a system in which students can drop off their dirty reusable boxes, receive a placeholder and then be able to pick up a clean box at the next meal.
Changes in the Pilot House will spark more surprise than confusion— Mack’s Market has begun to carry more recognizable snack foods at more reasonable prices. This semester, 80 percent of the products will be consistently sold while 20 percent will rotate out to introduce new ones. Mack’s Market will now stock fewer organic options to help lower prices.
“Now, instead of Paul Newman Oreos, we have regular Oreos, which are half the price and probably a better cookie,” Mustain said, laughing.
Mustain said that he understands that some students will still crave the fancier, organic items that were regularly being sold in the market last year but said he hopes to accommodate the cravings and budgets of more students by making this change.
There is discussion about a new eatery in Lund Family Hall, but there is not a firm timeline on that process yet, according to Mustain. He says that when the plan comes to fruition, the Anchor will be closed.