Georgetown completed a series of renovations to dining and student life facilities this summer, including major changes to O’Donovan Hall and the Leavey Center, increasing the number of outlets offering meal exchange options.
Changes include a renovation of Sellinger Lounge, Hoya Court and the university bookstore to open up the first floor of the Leavey Center and new food vendors Chick-fil-A and salad shop Crop Chop to replace Subway, Elevation Burger and Salad Creations. While Chick-fil-A does not accept meal swipes, Crop Chop does.
Changes to Leo’s include updates to the top and bottom floors, a new central staircase with stadium seating on each side and an all-you-care-to-eat space on the bottom floor operated by the Fresh Food Company. Six separate meal exchange locations now accept meal swipes and flex dollars on the upper floor.
Associate Vice President for Auxiliary Business Services Joelle Wiese said the planned renovations were all completed on time, but not all locations are operating at full capacity due to some outstanding logistical and staffing needs, including a required training period for Chick-fil-A employees.
As a result, lines and waiting time at Leo’s have been an issue for many students. According to Chief Business Officer Debby Morey, the university expects a period of adjustment for dining staff and employees.
Morey said since the entire renovation was completed in a short amount of time, some minor issues are visible.
“To change what we have changed over two and a half months is normally six to eight months. There are tweaks here and there,” Morey said.
In addition, Morey said the university is actively monitoring wait times to anticipate any future problems.
“We are viewing this as a stabilizing period because everything is so new,” Morey said. “We have folks who are actually timing students in line.”
Director of Business Operations of Auxiliary Business Services Loren Sumerlin said the extension of operating hours at Bulldog Tavern facilitates the use of meal exchanges.
“Last year we just had one a day during a specific timeframe. Now you have three [meal exchanges] a day on your meal plan and it is available in essence from open to close,” Sumerlin said. “There is almost 20 hours to 18 hours a day that a meal exchange option is available on campus.”
A significant change for the lower level of Leo’s is the transition away from a self-serve model. Employees now directly serve and prepare meals instead of carting the meals onto a hot plate. Weise said the university has the ability to convert some food stations into self-serving stations to account for increased traffic.
“We are trying to fluctuate the quality of the food with the business volume that we have,” Wiese said.
Georgetown University Student Association Deputy Chief of Staff Zac Schroepfer (MSB ’19) said the new configuration allows food to be prepared in front of the student and addresses past concerns regarding the quality and freshness of the food.
“Now the food is being prepared directly in front of the student. It is fresher and in my opinion and in many others’ opinions, higher quality food,” Schroepfer said. “What this also leads to is longer wait times.”
In addition, Wiese said food at self-serving stations can get cold and deteriorate in quality when Leo’s experiences low traffic.
According to GUSA Dining Chair Mark Camilli (COL ’19), larger issues with campus dining’s new renovations are attributed to employees adjusting to the change and should be resolved in the next month.
“These restaurants are brand new so you know getting used to the menus, getting used to what the orders are, so in a couple of weeks some of the kinks will be worked out,” Camilli said.
One issue many students have noticed is the positioning of sneeze guards at the edge of the Leo’s salad bar, impeding access to ingredients.
Morey said this obstacle was due to improper installation of sneeze guards and that the office is working to replace the sneeze guards.
“This is a source of frustration for us because we are not understanding why the sneeze guards are taking so long to get to us,” Morey said.
The Uncommon Grounds coffee shop also moved to the second floor of the bookstore and the Chick-fil-A in Hoya Court is expected to start offering breakfast and dinner menu options once employees have been properly trained in a few weeks.
Young Yun (MSB ’20) said though physical renovations are visually pleasing, the taste has not improved.
“I haven’t really noticed a change in food to be honest. Upstairs food, the lines are a little long at the start, but pretty good now,” Yun said. “Overall, it is good food. I am not sure it is worth 14 or 16, whatever they charge.”