Offerering some constructive criticism

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Food services at the University of Regina are somewhat lacking.

I say this because I am fairly disappointed with pretty much every aspect of our food services. From the re-rebranded BYOB (ex-World’s Fare and -Burger Studio) to the “Tim Hortons” we have in Riddell, food services is not terribly impressive.

Let me begin with my personal experience. The other day, I went to the Riddell Centre for lunch, not having had time to pack my own lunch that morning. As I approached the one functioning terminal for taking orders, I noticed that posted above it was a list of things above it that weren’t available. This was not a good start.

Once I placed my order, I reached down to where the receipt usually prints out. This time, it was not there. I asked a passing food services worker about the curious lack of receipt and, although she did try to fix it, it was obvious there was nothing she could do to make it print receipts.

I understand things won’t always work. I am fine with that. Even though I am impatient, I took a deep breath and waited. When my food was done, I took it to the counter to pay. Of course, not having a receipt, the woman working had to run over to the price board to check how much my food cost. Seeing as I was the first person in line, and there were three others behind me, I knew there was going to be a long line as people waited for the cashier to run over and check the prices, then run back to take my payment.

After I paid, I went to sit down and eat my meal. Unfortunately, while prices have gone down under Chartwells’ management, food quality has decreased as well. Gone are the delicious curly fries, replaced with soggy regular fries. The burger, although not terrible, was nothing special. I also couldn’t find any ketchup for my fries, the dispenser being empty even though BYOB had just opened for the day.

To say the least, I was disappointed in the meal. Considering that BYOB stands for “Build Your Own Burger”, there were surprisingly few options for constructing a burger, especially compared to last year’s Burger Studio. The only real option for a side was the fries, the other sides being on the list of unavailable items.

Aside from the food, the actual venue was not impressive. I assume the simple BYOB sign is meant to look post-modern and clean, but it looks hasty and poorly designed The fact there are two ordering terminals, of which only one is ever operational, looks ridiculous.

At best, this is just a growing pain for Chartwells at the U of R, at worst Chartwells simply doesn’t care that much about the university or providing the best for a small university like Regina. Chartwells does food services at Concordia and Simon Fraser University, to name  few, so it’s hard to say if the comparatively small number of students here will mean anything to them.

If a lack of care appears evident in the lack of preparedness at the sites they do have operational, it is more apparent in the sites that they still don’t have open even two weeks after classes have begun – the former “C-Store” in North Res being one, and the Lab Café being the other. As much as construction can get behind, having staples of campus food services shut down at the busiest time of the year is embarassing for the university and inconvenient for its students.

And then there is the rest of food services. I really dislike our pseudo-Tim Hortons, which isn’t a Tim Hortons at all but rather “features” Tim Hortons’ products. Same goes for the pseudo-Starbucks at the other end of Riddell. Although we are getting a Quiznos franchise and another “Tim Hortons”, they are likely to be bound by the same restrictions the current Tim Hortons is under – namely, they aren’t actually what they say they are.

As much as I enjoy the U of R campus, I wish it were more like the University of Saskatchewan campus, where real franchises exist on campus. Although the U of R is not alone across the country in having a monopoly on food services by one company, that doesn’t mean a food monopoly is the best way to go.

I am, however, glad there are a few independent food services on campus. For example, Henderson’s Cafe in Campion and Riddell generally serve pretty good food, and All Souped Up in College West serves decent wraps. Of course, if you can afford it, the Owl also has excellent food and, all-importantly, alcohol.

Hopefully, BYOB will improve this year, but until it does, I will be calling it “Bring Your Own Burger”.

Edward Dodd
Op-Ed Editor

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