Dobbs University Center’s (DUC) Dobbs Market, the main dining service on campus, will remove its Late Night dining option for four days in November, starting on the 12th and ending on the 15th.
This temporary suspension will serve as a trial run for an initiative by the Food Advisory Committee at Emory (FACE). In addition, the DUC will remain open until 10 p.m., two hours later than its current closing time of 8 p.m., in order to accommodate students who would have otherwise gone to Late Night.
Depending on student feedback after this trial, the DUC may choose to permanently implement these changes.
FACE co-chairs and College sophomores Michael Sacks and Karoline Porcello began developing this initiative as a response to what they felt was a significant amount of student dissatisfaction with the DUC’s current hours.
“In the past year, people have been complaining that the hours for the DUC have been really bad,” Sacks said.
According to Sacks, the DUC’s closing time has made it difficult for students in sports or clubs whose practices and meetings finish after 8 p.m. to “get a quality meal.” He noted that once the DUC closes, hungry students are limited to the WRec Room at Woodruff Residential Center and Zaya’s Mediterranean Restaurant, in terms of on-campus dining.
“The reason we started these DUC changes is because we went around and surveyed people, and the number one complaint was the hours of the DUC,” Porcello remarked. “They’d come at 7:30 p.m. and [the DUC] would be closing down, and there weren’t many options.”
As a result, Sacks and Porcello met with administrators from Emory Dining Services as well as Sodexo, Emory’s food provider, and devised these plans to change DUC dining hours. They also suggested that the DUC remove Late Night due to the fact that very few students took advantage of the food option.
“When it comes down to it, Late Night attendance is really low – [approximately] 200 people a night, which is actually really bad,” Sacks commented, adding that he thought the hours for Late Night are also inconvenient for DUC employees.
Sacks explained that many DUC employees use public transportation to commute to and from work. However, because Late Night currently closes at 12 a.m., many workers don’t finish their shifts until 12 a.m. or 1 a.m. On weeknights, the last Metro Atlanta Regional Transportation Authority (MARTA) bus leaves Emory’s campus at 12:13 a.m.
This, according to Sacks, means that “it’s really hard for [workers] to get around.”
The new hours would allow DUC employees to return home earlier, he hoped. Sacks also stressed that the longer hours would not affect the cost of food because “it’s still the same amount of hours of operation.”
“If anything, it’s even better because [the DUC] doesn’t have to close and reopen,” he said, referring to the two-hour period after 8 p.m. during which the DUC normally stays closed before Late Night begins.
Following the four-day trial period, Sacks and Porcello will examine attendance numbers to determine how many students took advantage of the longer DUC hours. Then, they will work with administrators to decide whether to implement these changes for the rest of the semester – permanently extending dining hours and removing the Late Night program.
According to Sacks and Porcello, FACE is also considering the possibility of having the DUC offer what they called “Premium Nights.”
This would mean that, on certain nights, the DUC would offer what they described as premium options such as “high-quality meats like steak or lobster,” said Porcello.
Students interested in these options would pay approximately six Dooley Dollars in addition to using one meal swipe, according to Porcello. They would then receive a coupon, enabling them to choose from any of the regular food options at the DUC as well as the premium.
“The idea is that this extra money [that will] come in allows them to produce much higher-quality food,” Sacks said, referring to the six Dooley Dollar surcharge for premium options. “The manager of the DUC said that it will be higher quality than what you get at most restaurants.”
On these nights, the DUC would also offer premium vegetarian options at no additional cost.
The DUC will offer one of these premium nights during the four-day trial period in November, during which it will also extend operational hours and remove Late Night.
If student feedback is positive, FACE will work on implementing more Premium Nights next semester as well as gathering student suggestions for food options during these nights.
“It’s all about what we hear back from students,” Porcello explained. “The [DUC] staff is really willing to mold to what students want.”
– By Stephanie Fang