October 3, 2010

Hutch gets late night dining, though demand is undercooked

Breakfast is back at Hutch Commons, at least for this year, as Student Government pushes forward with the late night dining program that received a lukewarm response in spring's pilot program..

From Monday through Thursday, 9 p.m. until midnight, Hutch now serves biscuits and gravy, made-to-order breakfast skillets, and french toast sticks, the assortment of breakfast options introduced last year. along with Subway and Bene Pizza.

“Late dining options were an obvious campus desire,” said fourth-year and Student Government President Greg Nance in an e-mail. “We wanted to give students an affordable, reliable dining option to get filling foods.”

But late night dining has been off to a slow start. “The early numbers are not of the magnitude of what we saw during the pilot,” said Director of Campus Dining Richard Mason, who chairs the Campus Dining Advisory Board, the group behind the after-hours dining initiative.

He added that so far the response has been about a third of what was anticipated, and Tuesday night dining workers were seen with little to do.

The lack of interest is attributable to poor promotion and few late-night studiers so early in the quarter, according to Nance. “As the word spreads and students return to late nights at the libraries we’ll see a big spike in patronage,” Nance said. “Things have begun slowly due to a lack of promotion—not a lack of great food.”

Student turn-out and surveys compiled during the test run revealed a sizable level of support for the concept, Mason said, who noted the Dining Office has made a year-long commitment to the program. “The numbers were there, even in the pilot,” he said. “It’s clearly something that would build over time.”

Current promotional efforts include ads on dining hall napkin dispensers and a $1 promotional discount for students with a receipt from a daytime purchase at Hutch.

On Tuesday at Hutch, a handful of students tucked into breakfast skillets as they went about their business, a small-scale replica of what school officials hope is to come.

“Before this, the only thing I knew that existed after ten was Bartmart,” third-year Pedro Sanchez de Lozada said. He said he welcomed any alternative to the “disgusting Edwardo’s pizza” available at Bart Mart.