USF students were able to explore the newly renovated dining areas in the Marshall Student Center (MSC), just shy of its grand opening last week.
However, they didn’t expect most of the student body to have the same idea.
USF Dining Services received a serious facelift this summer, beginning April 24 and spanning over the course of four months. Additions include a full-service Chick-fil-A, Bento’s Sushi, Panera Bread, computerized menu boards, individual cash registers and a mobile ordering system.
For the past two days, the MSC has been packed with people in long lines, huddled in large groups waiting for their lunch orders. Many students have said they have grown agitated over the line length and wait times.
Waiting for his order at Panera Bread, which replaced Einstein Bros. Bagels, Devin Perry, a junior majoring in engineering, said he had been expecting his food for “probably 10-15 minutes.”
Similarly, Ally Ingram, a junior majoring in chemistry, said she could not believe the line at the Panda Express.
“I’m wasting my whole life away here,” Ingram joked.
The first-day rush in the MSC is all too familiar to some patrons. One of those students being Katie Jones, a sophomore majoring in theater, who claimed that it was just as hectic last year.
“In the beginning, it was super busy and as the year went on, it kind of started to die down,” Jones said.
Perry said he believed that the lines would eventually let up as well.
“Because it’s the first week, everybody’s here,” said Perry. “It always drops off heavy after the first week. Even when there was the Beef O’Brady’s and Chick-fil-A was [in the food court], the first week was always chaotic.”
Junayed Jahangir, a sophomore majoring in business administration, said he thinks the influx of freshmen also might have contributed to the long lines.
“I’m an RA (Resident Assistant) and we’ve been told in our training again and again that this time you have more people on campus than ever,” Jahangir said. “We had 40,000 applicants this year, which is 20 percent more than last year. Obviously, USF is growing, and you can’t expect all of the side effects to be good. There are also some negative implications and this is one of them.”
The crowding issue is seen by some students as a poor design choice. Nisa Phelps, a sophomore and engineering student, said she noticed that there are fewer tables in the new Bullpen area in order to make room for the full-service Chick-fil-A line.
“They don’t have a lot of tables in front of Chick-fil-A, so it looks like they kind of made room. But it is still pretty crowded,” Phelps said.
The Bullpen replaced Beef O’Brady’s and now includes a Chick-fil-A, Bento’s Sushi, a pool table, cornhole and a giant chess board for students to use.
The Bullpen is also where the most criticisms were.
Jones thought the layout of Bento’s Sushi and Chick-fil-A was not ideal.
“I feel like they shouldn’t have put two restaurants in one place, because you can’t get to the Bento’s without zigzagging through Chick-fil-A,” said Jones. “If anything, they should have put the Chick-fil-A on the other side and the Bento’s in front because there weren’t a lot of people at Bento’s.”
Jones added that with a lack of seating indoors, people are forced to find spots outside in the 90-degree heat.
“There are different lines, but they’re all super backed up into the tables, and there are no other tables to sit at. I probably have to sit outside, but it’s too hot right now,” said Jones.
Perry checked out the Bullpen on the first day of school and witnessed a similar situation to what Jones described.
“I don’t know if you’ve ever been to the Bullpen, it is chaos. I went in there the first day like, ‘Oh I’ll check out how it is,’ right before they opened, and there must have been 100 people,” Perry said. “Lines were wrapped around where the pool table area was.
“It wasn’t out the door, but if they opened up the door it would have been.”
Jahangir said he had issues with the mobile food ordering system as well.
“I know they introduced Grubhub where you can order and see how many people are in the line,” Jahangir said. “But from my experience, that has really not been accurate, because often times it will say ‘two people in line,’ and you will come and see like 15 or 16. So maybe they can work on that a little bit.”
Jessica Cicalese, marketing director for Aramark and USF Dining Services, was unavailable for comment.
After expressing her frustration in the Panda Express line, Buckley summed up what the atmosphere has been like in the MSC these past few days.
“These lines are so long and I’m so hungry,” Buckley said.