Dining Services Transforms for Fall Semester

New protocols and procedures in place for CMU community

Familiarity has returned to Carnegie Mellon University eateries and coffee shops.

The Underground is again flipping all-day pancakes. The inviting aromas of coffee and lattes and cappuccinos are filling La Prima Espresso Co. And even Dave Collins, a favorite among Tartan students, is back at his familiar register at The Exchange, catching up with everyone and anyone.

These recognizable sights, smells and sounds had been missing on campus since mid-March. Now they’re back after Carnegie Mellon Dining Services spent the summer creating a number of enhancements and changes for the fall semester, each with the health and well-being of the CMU community as the top priority.

Many locations have been transformed, each with different looks that introduce new protocols.

Plexiglass hangs from ceilings above counters. Stickers pepper the floors to promote physical distancing. Plates, cups and utensils are all single use and disposable. Catering is now completely contactless via full-service buffets.

Most restaurants, including El Gallo de Oro and The Exchange, have no available seating and instead feature a labyrinth of stanchions and furniture to create a flow of traffic for those ordering and waiting for their meals.

"Removing tables and chairs was deliberate,” said Pascal Petter, director of Dining Services. "We’re strongly encouraging our guests to get their meals and go back to their residence or office, sit outside or locate an appropriately distanced touch down space.”

Schatz Dining Hall in the Cohon University Center is one of those new touch down spaces - an area where people can go to sit and eat during a break in the day.

Mike Carlson, manager of The Exchange, peeks behind a Plexiglass counter barrier.

There’s even a new preferred way of getting food: planning in advance. Nearly every open restaurant on campus now offers mobile ordering, which is available with the GET Food app. Food and drink will be waiting at designated shelves or tables when the customer arrives for pick-up.

These modifications aren’t just different for faculty, staff and students. They also create new procedures for associates working at each location.

On a recent afternoon at The Underground, General Manager J.R. Teyssier addressed nearly a dozen of his colleagues. It was one of the first times the team had been together in five months.

"If you’re working the register, you control the line,” Teyssier instructed. "Over here, at this counter, you have to ask people if they want condiments or utensils. Then you’ll hand them out.”

In many ways, it felt like the first day on the job in the lower level of Morewood Gardens. Yet it’s all part of a new outlook at CMU: learning how to do old jobs in new ways to benefit everyone.

"In many ways, we’ve reinvented the dining experience,” said Petter. "All with the goal of continuing to provide the same things our community has come to expect - even if it looks a bit different as they return to campus.”

Operating hours and menus are available on the Dining Services website. Some locations will not open this semester, including Ginger’s, Heinz Café, iNoodle, Rothberg’s Roasters – Maggie Murph Café, Rothberg’s Roasters II, Schatz and Tazza D’Oro (both locations). SEIber Café is expected to open later in the semester.

Any student living in on-campus housing, with or without a meal plan, who is instructed by University Health Services to isolate/self-isolate may utilize the Isolation Meal Delivery Service.


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