Changes elicit mixed opinions
Over the past several years, ordering food from campus dining retail locations has transitioned to a digital system. Food ordering now occurs primarily over the GrubHub app and via GrubHub kiosks, both of which were implemented on Notre Dame’s campus during the 2019-2020 school year.
“We already had a partnership with GrubHub prior to the start of the pandemic in an effort to increase the convenience of mobile ordering, which helps decrease waiting times for those who order ahead of time. COVID-19 accelerated the use of said feature. The kiosks are added for anyone without access to mobile ordering,” Sandra Garcia, Director of Retail Dining, said.
The most recent development in Campus Dining also presented a new ordering system. When Chick-fil-A opened in February, students were introduced to a different way of ordering through GrubHub. Rather than adding an order to an inflexible queue, a diner places his order and then checks in upon arrival in Duncan Student Center, where the restaurant is located. When the customer checks in, Chick-fil-A employees begin preparing the customer’s meal so as to serve the freshest food possible.
Garcia explained that the rationale behind the new check-in function “is to ensure guests are in the building before the kitchen produces the order to ensure fresh, hot food with every order.”
When asked about the decision to implement the new system, Garcia said that customers also have the option to order verbally at Chick-fil-A. “Chick-fil-A was involved in determining our service model. We do have walk-up capabilities at Chick-fil-A, so anyone is welcome to come to the counter and order verbally, as Chick-fil-A highly values strong customer service and interaction. Knowing so many students have transitioned to mobile ordering via GrubHub, however, we also kept that (and kiosks) available to provide consistency in user experience.”
When asked about the proportion of online orders to verbal orders, Notre Dame student and Chick-fil-A employee Gerard Rabulan said that a “very big majority is ordering online because it’s mostly students. Other people tend to crowd at the kiosk; students are the only ones with the GrubHub app.”
Rabulan shared that, if he had to choose, he prefers receiving online orders over verbal orders “because they come quickly on the screen, but honestly it doesn’t matter.”
Other Chick-fil-A employees concurred. A local high schooler named Isaac who is employed by the restaurant on campus said that the online ordering system “was kind of weird at first, but I think it makes things go faster. I think people ordering online is the most efficient way to get things out.”
Hagerty Family Café employee Ariana told the Rover that customers at the café also have the option between ordering digitally and ordering verbally, but that only about 25 out of the approximately 200 customers who come to the café in a day order verbally. Ariana said she believes the most important function of her job to be efficiency: “I prefer online ordering because it’s way more efficient and people can get to class on time.”
Others dislike the prevalence of online ordering from dining options across campus. Senior Maria Sermersheim said: “I greatly dislike the university’s movement toward all-digital ordering for food … It makes it all too easy to be selfish and impatient.”
This sentiment, Sermersheim shared, was shaped by a relationship with an employee of Decio Café.
“I became friends with [a worker named] Matt at Decio Cafe my freshman year … I often loved trying the different meal options, and Matt, I discovered, was the mastermind behind many of the creations and their adaptations … It became my habit to go to Decio at least once a week, both to enjoy their wonderful sandwiches and to say hello to Matt,” Sermersheim said. Unfortunately, when the university closed Decio Café due to Covid-19 protocols, Sermersheim was unable to see her friend.
Sermersheim said, finally, that she has been able to visit Matt regularly again, now that Decio Café has reopened: “I love saying hello to Matt from Decio because he is. He’s a wonderful person, he makes delicious food, he cares about preparing it well, he’s all these things and more; but he is first and foremost another human being, an individual outside of myself with whom I am blessed to associate.”
Joshua Gilchrist is a junior in the Program of Liberal Studies with a supplementary major in theology. When he’s not in the library or the PLS lounge, you can find him running around the lakes, mixing drinks, or enjoying a good conversation over a cigar. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: @NDCampusDining on Twitter