Dinner’s Done, but Spring’s Around the Corner –koe -dlh

Erin Ober

As many of you know, Lucinda’s offered dinner for the first time this past November as a response to an LUCC welfare committee survey conducted last year. During this brief period, Lucinda’s received 3,197 diners total, about 228 per evening, comparable to the average of 300 for lunch. The dinner hour won’t be back though, at least not to stay.
Despite the generally positive response to the program and the stress it took off the Downer dinner rush, budgetary concerns quickly arose. Since Lucinda’s offers more services for the students (e.g. busing tables), the cost of labor quickly outpaced the cost of food, and the budget suffered.
Lynn Hagee, director of food services, gauged the student reaction to the dinner hour by creating an exit survey, given to about 150 students who came to test-run dinner at Lucinda’s. The questionnaire was simple, asking if the student had a good experience or a bad experience, and why. It also asked what, if anything, they would change. Most students enjoyed the dinner, but a number of Colman residents expressed concern about breakfast being cancelled in the winter, when they could enjoy rolling out of bed in the morning and going to downstairs rather than having to bundle up to walk across campus to Downer.
The decision to discontinue the Lucinda’s dinner came from Hagee and the food services management team and was directly a matter of budget and the inconvenience of changing staff hours so drastically. Another complicating factor was the student push for a greater variety in the Lucinda’s menu, a buffet that has always been a one-meal venue. “Our biggest challenge in food service is pleasing over 1,100 palates,” commented Hagee, who has been working as director for four years, “Everyone wants something different.”
Though dinner at Lucy’s won’t be a permanent fixture, Hagee hopes to bring it around for one month every year (most likely during fall term) in order to give students some different options with their dining. Another change to look for, again taken from the LUCC student survey, is a month of outdoor dining during spring term, also most likely to happen at Lucinda’s, where an enclosed courtyard allows for control of student comings and goings.
These and other attempts to enhance the dining experience at Lawrence, though temporary, have provided an appreciated change of pace; in the future, expect them to be both eagerly anticipated and attended.