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Extended NDH hours satisfy diners

John-Paul Witt | Thursday, April 26, 2007

Grabbing dinner has been a bit easier for busy students since North Dining Hall extended its weekday dinnertime by an hour – and the responses to this change have been nothing but positive, North Dining Hall General Manager Reggie Kalili said.

North Dining Hall extended its hours until 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday after spring break. The extra hour was in response to student demand, because South Dining Hall was only open weekdays after seven, Kalili said.

Reaction from students who use North Dining Hall (NDH) has generally been positive, Kalili said, and the dining hall staff has provided “positive comments” about the change as well.

Recent surveys at North Dining Hall have shown a sharp jump in the rating for “satisfaction with operating hours,” Kalili said.

The push to extend NDH’s hours has been in the works since 1998, when SDH began staying open until 9 p.m., Kalili said.

It took so long to implement the change, Kalili said, because usage statistics revealed that South Dining Hall “wasn’t busy enough after 7 p.m. to justify having both Halls open.”

Kalili said after taking into account the responses on last semester’s dining hall satisfaction surveys, he decided to implement the later hours – choosing the period after spring break because the number of students who eat after 7 p.m. decreases in the winter months.

“On nicer days more people are out later and coming to [the dining hall] later,” Kalili said.

The new hours may not be permanent, however.

Kalili said if enough students don’t take advantage of the later hours this semester, they may not be offered next year.

While the dining halls track usage patterns electronically, the statistics for this semester will not be analyzed until after the semester ends, Kalili said.

“We’ll see how many people came in prior to [the dining hall] staying open until eight and see if more people are coming in than before and at what times,” he said. “At the bottom line, that’s what it is – are people using it?”

Another option under consideration is having later hours up until fall break and after spring break, when temperatures are warmer, Kalili said.

Kalili said he was able to extend North’s hours by adjusting the labor schedule for dining hall cooks, monitors and service associates. Shifts were changed from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. – to 12 p.m. to 8 p.m., which Kalili said has been generally well received by staff.

“We’ve been trying to move our labor around so we have people here when we need them and not occur any overtime or additional labor,” he said. “I don’t think it’s costing us anything at this point, but we’ll evaluate this at the end of the semester to see if that assumption is true.”

Sophomore Jonathan Poelhuis, a Stanford resident and frequent visitor of North Dining Hall lauded the effects of the extended hours.

“I like how it spreads out the eating schedule so that people eat at different times,” he said. “It makes coming to the dining hall much more fun.”