Dining hall hours updated

Kailey Pisani, Contributing writer

A new school year means new hours for our dining facilities here on campus!

Within the first few weeks of school, the Grotto Commons announced that they would be opening at 11 a.m. on the weekends, and both the 501 Grille and the Grotto Commons were closing at 8 p.m., much to the surprise of the student body.

Many of these changes came about due to this being the first Fall term with all the new dining facilities in operation. Katie Boyd, the Parkhurst Director of Dining, explained her reasoning behind the new hours.

“We weren’t sure how the students would stagger themselves, so it was definitely trial and error.”

After a few weeks of this trial and error, this past past weekend the Grotto reopened at 9 a.m., but the 501 Grille will continue to open at 11 a.m. and both dining halls will close by 7 p.m. The Roost’s hours were adjusted to meet the needs of the student body, and is open until 10 p.m. Sunday-Wednesday and midnight Thursday-Saturday.

Each year, Parkhurst Dining meets with Mercyhurst to discuss past year trends and the possible new flow of students.

“Last year, outside of our athletic teams that we were already going to serve anyway for pre-game meals, we found that our traffic flow was very minimal on the weekends,” Boyd said. “We didn’t pick up until 11 a.m., so we felt that taking the hours and adding them to The Roost, which opens at noon, would work for games and other events happening on campus on the weekends.”
The Laker Inn has seen a few changes as well. The Cinco Cantina & Grille will be open Monday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., while the Crimson Cup, Bruetta Tea and On The Go will be open Monday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

“The Crimson Cup is starting to have a following, so we’re going to keep that open at 10 a.m., but we’ll now start rolling the food out at 11 a.m. since we aren’t getting much traffic flow until noon,” Boyd said.

Out of all the dining facilities here at Mercyhurst, The Grotto has been found to be “the hub,” where the greatest number of students eat on a day to day basis. This is especially true since it is the closest dining facility in proximity to freshmen housing.

Students have also voiced complaints about the Laker no longer accepting board swipes. Boyd states that this is due to an increased capacity at The Grotto and 501 Grille where students can use their board swipes at those locations.

“The meal plan equivalency was set up years ago prior to all updates to the food service venues. Before the Grotto was renovated and the 501 Grille was built, we could only fit 275 people in the board hall. To accommodate the traffic flow, we began the meal equivalency option. Now that we seat 350 in the Grotto and 175 in the 501 Grille, we have the space to absorb the traffic,” Boyd said.
It has been noticed that with the early closings of both the 501 Grille and The Grotto, there has been an increase in freshmen ordering from outside vendors such as Doordash, an on-demand food delivery service that caters to any cuisine in the area that the customer is craving.

For example, freshman Connor Kavanaugh, a History major, uses Doordash for the variety of food options.

This seems to be a continuous theme with students Boyd has seen through the comment cards students can use to make suggestions.

“They say they want more variety, but that’s not informative,” Boyd said.

To combat this lack of connection between the students and the Parkhurst staff, Boyd is looking forward to setting out a table once a month where she will be available to talk to students and establish a line of communication. Starting Sept. 11, students can talk to Boyd from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. in The Grotto.
“I look forward to doing a lot of work with the students,” Boyd said. “I want to start putting out a table once a month. Students can then tell me whatever they would like. Things we’re getting right, things we’re getting wrong, any feedback they have. I just want to start that connection with the students.”