Dining Services takes over Law Cafe operations, to open new cafe in Brown School next fall

| Staff Reporter

The Law Cafe in Anheuser-Busch Hall now accepts meal points, thanks to Washington University Dining Services taking over its management.

The Law Cafe was formerly managed by Aramark Corporation, but when the law school recently held a bid process for management of the cafe, Bon Appetit was chosen to revamp it.

Under the new management, the Law Cafe will now accept meal points, making it more appealing for undergraduate students tied to a meal plan. Additionally, the new cafe adds another facility to Dining Services’ portfolio, which will further expand with the opening of a cafe in the new Brown School of Social Work building next fall.

The Law Cafe features a new menu under Bon Appetit and Dining Services, with new pizza and made-to-order salad stations. It joins the Carvery at Holmes Lounge as the second place to offer carvery wraps, but Dining Services does not expect there to be any competition between the two locations.

“We want them to be very separate. The Holmes Carvery is still the Holmes Carvery, and that is where you should go for Holmes Carvery,” April Powell, director of marketing & communications for Dining Services, said.

Powell said Bon Appetit hoped that its work on updating the cafe would create an impact on the law school.

“We didn’t really get into it for ‘how much money can Bon Appetit make’ but ‘how can we make a difference on the campus,’” Powell said. “I think we’ve made a significant impact on the law school community in offering them something new and different and, hopefully, more impressive than what they had before. We’re really proud of it, and we think they’re really proud of it as well.”

Lead cook Josh Koester, formerly a cook at Ibby’s, stated that the cafe is now using more organic and locally sourced ingredients in its food.

“We’ve brought a higher-standard food than what was here before,” Koester said.

Powell also noted that Dining Services has been working with Kaldi’s Coffee to create a true coffee shop vibe on campus. By improving the layout and feel of the area, both companies are trying to differentiate the Law Cafe from other cafes on campus.

Sophomore Sydney Rabin was impressed with her first visit to the Law Cafe.

“There’s always a lot of open tables. It’s not too loud, but you’re also able to talk to people,” Rabin said. “It’s a really nice area.”

She also admired the ambience of the eating area.

“I like the open top; it’s less claustrophobic,” Rabin said.

Dining Services’ goal for next semester is to improve feedback and communication with students. In the fall, the company introduced the Text N Tell system, which allows students to text feedback about their dining experiences. However, students have not been using the system to the extent that Powell expected.

“We’re finding the process to be a little bit more cumbersome than we anticipated,” Powell said, ”which is why I think that we haven’t received as much feedback via that system as we would like.”

Powell noted that Dining Services will working to be improve the Text N Tell system and find the best ways to communicate with students.

“Feedback is a huge piece for us,” Powell said. “So that’s was we encourage everybody to do, just talk to us.”

Additionally, Dining Services is still dealing with student reactions from its decision to not offer food in the Danforth University Center on weekends. After analyzing data and numbers from previous years and talking with both administration and the DUC, Dining Services currently has no plans to restart serving food in the DUC on Saturday or Sunday.

“The feedback has been kind of all over the place,” Powell said. “I think the one thing we’re addressing is that people want the DUC open on the weekends, but this is a business decision and not something that we did lightly or took lightly, and it wasn’t based on anecdotal information. It was really based on the actual business aspects of running this particular building.”

Moving forward, the only project Bon Appetit is currently working on is opening a cafe in the new Brown School of Social Work building. It shares the name Grounds for Change with a coffee shop in Goldfarb Hall and is expected to open by fall 2015.

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