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North Dining Hall plans for staff changes during renovations

| Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Next semester, North Dining Hall will undergo some big changes. There will be fewer seats, more hours and — eventually — a completely new setup.

And for the dining hall’s 139 staff members, it may mean a change of pace.

20161108,_Chris Collins
A North Dining Hall worker carves meat at the homestyle station. Staff members were assured that they will have a position at the University even when part of the building closes for construction.

In addition to its five-phase renovation plan for the building, Campus Dining introduced a three-phase staffing plan to redeploy workers during the construction period.

None of the North Dining Hall (NDH) employees will be laid off, director of student dining Scott Kachmarik said.

“We’ve guaranteed all the staff here in North Dining Hall, ‘You’re going to have a job. And you’re going to be able to keep working through this whole project,” he said.

Instead, Kachmarik said, workers will be reassigned to temporary positions in South Dining Hall (SDH), at the Center for Culinary Excellence (CCE) and in other departments around campus. The Campus Dining leadership team will conduct one-on-one assessments with each employee to determine a good fit for each person.

“If folks say, ‘I want to go work in Building Services,’ or ‘I want to go work in Athletics,’ this is a time where we can make that happen,” Kachmarik said.

The process is similar to the one used for the Morris Inn renovations back in 2013, he added. When the hotel was closed for eight months, employees filled in at other jobs on campus.

What Notre Dame does is almost unheard of, Kachmarik said.

“If you were to go to New York City and there was a hotel — or if you were to go to some restaurant here in town — and they were doing a renovation like we’re doing, they would just shut the place down, stop serving and lay everybody off,” he said.

At points when the building is completely closed — such as winter break — Kachmarik said the NDH staff would be encouraged to use their vacation days. Others will likely work on some deep cleaning projects for Campus Dining.

While most of the workers will likely return to NDH after it reopens for the fall semester in 2017, some may find they prefer their new worksites, Kachmarik said.

“It happened at the Morris Inn,” he said. “There were three or four people who got into their positions and just thought it suited them better.”

Starting in January, Kachmarik estimates that 15 to 20 NDH staff members will be sent to work at South.

“We know there are going to be more people at South,” he said. “A lot of people, if they aren’t feeling lazy, are going to walk to South.”

Though NDH will be able to seat less people, the kitchen area where 90 percent of food is prepared will remain pretty much intact over the course of the renovation, Kachmarik said.

“Our staff is going to be very thoughtful in helping design menus to speed the traffic through during this time period,” he said

It’ll be a big change, when everything’s finished. But Kachmarik said he thinks that’s the exciting part.

“The end result is really something,” he said.

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About Katie Galioto

Katie, The Observer's former Managing Editor, is a senior majoring in political science, with minors in Business Economics and Journalism, Ethics and Democracy. She's an ex-Walsh Hall resident who now lives off campus and hails from Chanhassen, Minnesota. Follow her on Twitter @katiegalioto.

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