MIND SOUP: After more than one year of renovations, AUB's main cafeteria (the one in Ada Dodge Hall) had its "grande" opening last Thursday (October 14). During the last three working days, students have been flooding into the cafeteria, more disappointed than satisfied. Below is a detailed pros/cons description of the situation.
What we like:
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- Definitely the design and the wallpaper which captures the AUB spirit and successfully integrates itself in the AUB campus.
- The division of food sections is a good idea, students can get pasta, daily dishes, hot sandwiches, cold sandwiches, manakeesh, and drinks from different places, but this also a negative aspect (scattered lines of waiting people, crowding)
- The colors. I personally like the black, red and white retro thing that's going on.
- The modern furniture which is a well-deserved upgrade from the bus cafeteria that we had for the last year.
- Students have a new place to hang out. Main gate and West hall areas are less crowded now and I can actually make it on time to my classes
- No smoking in the cafeteria (much like the whole campus) which is great advantages on most restaurants on bliss street.
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What we don't like:
- The number one complaint: Grumpy Employees. You would think that they would have a more cheerful attitude since they moved into a better place, but no. They have to serve you with the most annoying frowns, disgusted looks, and pretentious eyes. It gets to the point that you don't want to eat there anymore. I have already told this to the members of the board of trustees that I have had lunch with two weeks ago. I don't know how much influence will that get. In short, I told them that most AUB employees need attitude adjustments, because they hate their jobs. Many times they end up screaming at the students because they are asked to do the jobs that they are supposed to do (I can give names if needed!)
- The layout. It is a complete waste of space (much like OSB and Hostler Centre). The food sections take up so much space that there is significantly less places for students. Plus, there are far much less seats than the previous cafeteria. AUB seriously needs to get a layout designer to redesign the building interiors and make better and more efficient use of space.
|This is pretty much what the first floor can seat (minus a few other tables on the other side)|
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- Prices have went up again! And as much as 50% on some items. It is much cheaper to grab a decent meal from bliss street. Juice and sweets are so over-priced. A juice bottle that costs LL750 anywhere outside costs LL1,500 in the cafeteria. So does chocolate bars and biscuits.
- Food quality is still not up to par. And believe me, I have tasted Faqra Catering's good food. The food they offer at the cafeteria isn't it. Compared to the prices they are charging, I might as well have a decent and filling meal at Socrates. Sometimes, the food is even tasteless; they could improve greatly in that aspect (ever heard of condiments, or even salt?)
- There is no variety for daily dishes: just two dishes to choose from, and they would usually taste the same. In the old cafeteria there was at least four daily dishes.
- Employee and food hygiene isn't great either. I've heard some of my friends complaining about sick employees handling their food.
|The ice tea/beverages bar|
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- The location of the ice tea/beverage stand is annoying. They make you get a receipt before getting the drink and then in some occasions the cashier throws the receipt without asking the student. In short, the food-buying process for some items is as bureaucratic and hierarchical as AUB.
- Quantity of food. Food runs out too quickly, many students would come into the cafeteria to see the good things have disappeared, and would end up getting a cold sandwich or go somewhere else.
- Still no meal plan. AUB, one of the "leading" universities in the middle east, doesn't offer a meal plan for its students. If meal plans were offered for students, it would make our lives much easier, and our daily expenses much less.
- No dinner meal. The cafeteria doesn't offer a dinner meal and closes too early. Other prestigious universities offer dinner meals, especially for dorms students who may want to have a dinner meal on campus.
|Menus for different stands.|
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So basically, since my review of the catering services back in March, very few things have improved with Faqra catering. As a business student, I can say that AUB and Faqra has failed to apply most of the ten Operations Management decision that we are taught in class (most notably layout, quality, HR, quantity, etc..)
It's not the first time that AUB doesn't apply or neglects many essential aspects that are taught in its classrooms (may I remind you of the Outlook plagiarism scandal that the administration totally neglected last year? -- and they insist on all students passing the plagiarism test).
AUB, I'm happy that we finally got the cafeteria that we deserve, but many things need to be improved. Try hiring business students that you educate, they would show you what you're doing wrong.