To battle the lunch-time crowds, Okenshields Dining Hall has set up a new line-up system which has largely reduced congestion in the dining room and increased the speed of the service lines.
Okenshields Dining Hall is the only buffet-style eatery on central campus, and serves about 1,200 people for lunch. The room gets crowded during peak times, which is “typically about 15-20 minutes after the top of the hour,” Troy Buchanan, central campus dining manager, told The Sun.
Buchanan said the main cause of congestion is a lack of individual lines for different food stations. People who only wanted the main meal would be in the same long line as people who wanted both the main meal and selections from the Grain and Speciality Bar. This resulted in lengthy service time.
To reduce the time people spend waiting in line, Buchanan redesigned the line flow and collected student feedback. He also tested a similar version of the final line-up at Midnight Breakfast, a special occasion at Okenshields that serves breakfast food during the night. After finding the new system to be successful at the breakfast event, he put it into full operation at Okenshields starting Sept. 4.
“The new line-up system moves the service line towards the center/soup area and doubles the traditional hot food line service,” Buchanan explained.
Customer flow has improved since the adoption of the new line flow, according to Buchanan. He said he has received positive feedback regarding the change both in person and through Give Us the Dish, a customer feedback app.
“In the past we experienced lines of 60+ people long, wrapping around the posts and into the dining room,” Buchanan said. “With the new system, the longest line I have seen yet was about 20-30 people and it was gone in less than five minutes.”
“It moves the large line away from the Okenshields entrance and allows for faster service for students getting their main, hot meal,” he continued. “It also allows folks who want selections from the Grain or Specialty Bar to go directly to those lines instead of waiting.”
Buchanan said he had noticed in the past that many students would leave for another eatery upon seeing the long line-ups in Okenshields. But since the implementation of the new system, he has not seen it happen again.
Jackie Hutchinson ’19 also found the new line flow to be much more organized and effective than the previous system.
“I’ve always avoided that dining hall during lunch rush because it was impossible to get through the lines, but I definitely think this works better,” she said.