The fall semester at Georgia Southern University brought with it changes to the dining plans that affected both the new dining halls and the other on-campus dining locations.
The reception of the new dining halls, Main Dining Commons and Lakeside Dining Commons, and the new dining plans has been positive overall.
“We’ve actually been selling more dining plans,” Mark Braswell, director of retail brands and catering, said.
“I think the Dining Dollars have actually been a positive impact because they give a lot more flexibility to our clients and guests to come in and get what they would like instead of feeling pressured to fill a dining plan,” Michael Bynum, general manager of Einstein Bros. Bagels and Cold Stone Creamery, said.
The exclusion of other on-campus dining locations from the dining plans has had both positive and negative effects.
“There are really two sides to it, there is the side of we were doing 1,000 [transactions] a day last year, this year we are doing not that many,” Bynum said.
“We are able to address our customers directly and get every order correct and every customer is getting exactly what they wanted,” Bynum said. “So I think that is a very large positive.”
All dining locations are anticipating better ways to serve customers and become more engaged with the community.
“The next step for us is to do things that engage the community and get the students involved in what we’re doing,” Murphy said. “It gives us an opportunity to get that one-on-one with the students and help them.”
“We can price [menus] more so for the customer, not setting a dining plan price for everything, so they have more choices, so to speak,” Braswell said
Einstein Bros. Bagels looks to expand its catering business that serves up to 150 people. In the past it was neglected because there was not enough staff to operate it correctly, Bynum said.
Cold Stone Creamery is working on a mobile transaction system that will take Dining Dollars, Eagle Express and credit cards, so it can load a cart with ice cream to take all over campus.
“We try to do our best to make the best experience for everybody,” Michael Murphy, marketing coordinator of Eagle Dining Services, said.
The startup of the new dining halls did pose its challenges, particularly employee-wise.
The large influx of students created challenges, such as shortages of employees, at the beginning of the semester, Michael Price, director of culinary operations, said.
“We’re getting more and more folks in here and it’s coming together now,” Price said. “Lines have gone down.”
The next challenge facing the dining halls is consistency, making sure that the food a student might have tasted and loved one day tastes the exact same the next time they stop by and get that same food item, Price said.
Murphy said, “We are doing our best to ensure that everybody gets the same great experience when they come here, and everybody gets an experience that is timely and enjoyable.”