Bartlett dining hall draws praise from diners

By Joel Lanceta

Patrons and employees at Bartlett Dining Hall are beginning to see a better environment, both for students and workers, as the cafeteria enters its second year as the main dining hall on campus.

With the lines moving more quickly and the menu becoming more diversified, student opinion of Bartlett has been mostly positive. Employees are also finding their jobs easier, due to better control at the cashiers’ lines and the food stations and without the overcrowding that used to be common at Bartlett.

When Bartlett first opened in 2001, students and workers had to deal with long lines and shortages of food, particularly at dinnertime when all students could use their meal points at Bartlett. Under the present meal plan, Bartlett meals are now mostly a la Carte and paid with Flex dollars, with students living in Max Palvesky, Snell-Hitchcock, and Stony Island given dinner points to use exclusively at Bartlett.

Wes Wallace, the assistant director of Retail Operations for Aramark, the University’s food service company, and manager of Bartlett since October 2002, has said that Bartlett has transitioned smoothly from its opening in 2001 to its current status.

“Doing this type of business of this volume, we know we have a lot of work to deal with, but we’ve still managed to get mostly positive feedback,” Wallace said. “In the three years we’ve been opened, we have figured out a better way of maintaining the large amount of space we have in this building, through better sanitation, keeping it clean, and giving better service to our customers.”

Wallace said that Aramark has 22,000 square feet in Bartlett, including the main dining hall, the kitchen on the first floor, and the food storage on the basement level.

As for the Bartlett workers, Wallace said that he’s heard nothing but good things on how the employee atmosphere has improved since the dining hall first opened.

“The employees here have an understanding into what type of work they’re doing and to what volume they’ll be operating in when they take on this job,” Wallace said. “It’s a hard job, but we treat out employees right. They’ve got good employee benefits; we buy their uniforms, their aprons, their shoes, their hats, and they get paid training. We’ve also have a customer service incentive program to encourage better service between each station at Bartlett and the students.”

Mike Mesenbrink, the College director of Operations for Aramark, said that he’s also heard nothing but encouraging remarks from students about Bartlett, especially at the Dining Services Committee meetings, which include Housing and Dining Staff and representatives from all the dorms serviced by Bartlett.

Resenia Hogan, a cashier at Bartlett since it opened in 2001, agreed that the atmosphere and workplace was on the upswing.

“Things are getting quicker and easier here now that everything is a la Carte and we’ve got six cashiers working at the front,” Hogan said.

Hogan also believed that Bartlett has had better management since Wallace took over last year.

Some upperclassmen, who have been eating at Bartlett since it opened, disagreed that all aspects of Bartlett have changed for the better.

“The food selection here has gotten a little worse,” said Nicole Neulist, a fourth-year in the College, “but the lines have gotten faster and the service is kind of better.”

Nick Tarasen, also a fourth-year in the College, said that the food is not as good as it used to be, but that it’s served in a more “orderly manner.”

Many first-year students, especially those who live in Max Palevsky, felt that it was a better dining hall than either Burton-Judson or Pierce.

“The food: endless. The quality: unparalleled. The service: first-class. Praises to you, Bartlett and your supple trays of edibles,” said Michael Lockman, a first-year in Hoover House.