Sodexho may have made good with union workers after the barrage of concerns last year, but a week into its opening some students say they are displeased with the new cafeteria facilities, citing long lines and expensive and lackluster food.
“I went to order over where it says ‘Order,’ but the line winds way back here,” said Andrew Havens, a junior undergraduate waiting in line at Noah’s Bagels. “It’s just a little confusing.”
Audrey Grant, a sophomore undergrad, agrees that the lines are a bit slower, along with many other problems. “Prices are higher, there’s less food selection and the service sucks,” she said.
Changed from last year, in which registers were placed at the entrance and exits of the food court area, the new food court has a register at every food station.
“It was smart of them to put the registers at each place, but it takes a little longer,” Grant said.
The placement of the new registers was intended to prevent customers from being forced to stand in line to get their food and then also wait to be checked out. However, many of the lines build up because of the extra time it takes for the employees to do both jobs.
“Sodexho is still trying to work it out to be most efficient,” said John Eckman, associate director of auxiliary services.
Auxiliary services plans to appoint a student-faculty board to advise Portland State on food service issues beginning winter term.
Another area of contention is Ultimate Baja, which replaced the highly protested Taco Bell. With prices of $5.19 for a chicken or beef burrito and $4.99 for a basket of three chicken or beef tacos, students say it is a bit expensive in comparison to other local restaurants.
“We were looking to do something a little more upscale,” Benson said. “Baja is designed more along the lines of Chipotle and Baja Fresh.”
But students say that for a burrito in mid-five dollar range, Ultimate Baja falls short.
“I don’t think it’s up to par,” said Grant. “With Taco Bell and other Mexican restaurants around town, it just isn’t as good.”
Many of the services in the food court do have comparable prices to similar establishments. The Noah’s Bagels in the food court has cheaper prices than the one located 500 N.W. 23rd Ave. by around 40 cents on most items, while the Grill 155�� located at Concordia University in northeast Portland has menu prices that are more expensive in all similar categories except soda, french fries and coffee.
“I haven’t heard of any student complaints yet,” said Eckman said, referring to price complaints. “The committee will also help in response to any issues when they may rise.”
The Grill’s prices are still more expensive than most fast food restaurants, such as the McDonalds on Sixth Avenue. Locally owned Broadway Coffee, located right across from Shattuck Hall on Broadway, also has cheaper prices on most of their coffee drinks, such as a mocha for $3.25 compared to the food court’s Java Bistro’s mocha at $3.55.
Eckman said that any complaints students do have should be brought to auxiliary services, which can relay any student comments to Charlie Benson, the food court’s general manager. Benson also said that Sodexho has a customer feedback box, located in the entryway between Grill 155�� and LaVincita, of which they will look at the comments and complaints quarterly and assess the services accordingly.
Problems first arose after the food court reopened and were run by Sodexho for the first time.