#FocusDisruption is a collaboration of all the media outlets within Montclair State’s School of Communication and Media. Our goal is to report stories that highlight the effects or disruption of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. We will be focusing on five main points that are experiencing the changes of a post-pandemic world: education, misinformation, the workplace, climate change and mental health.
Montclair State University’s Café Diem and Red Hawk Diner have been closed for quite some time now, and the campus community wants answers.
Students have been wondering why their two favorite dining locations on campus have been closed for so long.
Café Diem is located right next to the library and the Red Hawk Diner is behind the Student Center. Both places were closed in the spring of 2020 when the entire campus went remote due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Dr. Dawn Soufleris, the vice president for student development and campus life, was able to give some insight into why these locations have not reopened yet.
“There is a significant labor shortage in the area, especially in the food service [and] retail area, mainly due to the pandemic,” Soufleris said. “Dining Services is trying to hire new personnel to cover these areas, but unfortunately have not been able to successfully. We had hired two individuals, but they chose to not accept the positions, so Dining Services is continuing to recruit. I would rather have all of our other operations fully going, than split personnel between different areas.”
According to Lindsey Anderson, Montclair State Dining Service’s marketing manager, the university has hosted several part-time job fairs to promote available positions on online employment sites. They are also offering a $300 bonus incentive for all new hires that maintain employment for more than 90 days.
“Staffing out operations and filling the open-position gap is amongst our top priorities at this time,” Anderson said.
Soufleris also went on to say that Tropical Storm Ida damaged the Red Hawk Diner in the beginning of September. Repairs had to be made to the roof, ceiling and other parts of the building. The repairs took longer than expected as there is a nationwide shortage of building materials. All damages were completely fixed about a week ago.
These locations have been closed for so long that some students don’t even remember the last time they were open. Gretchen Ruoff, a junior television and digital media major, was looking forward to eating at the diner.
“When I went on a [campus] tour here, they said the diner is open 24/7, so that’s great because other places close [early],” Ruoff said. “But now that we’re here, all of the food places seem to close at 7 p.m.”
James Robinson, the director of auxiliary services, said the university is working hard to reopen these locations.
“Chartwells has all sorts of techniques to fill in the labor gaps like student workers, [temporary] labor firms and sign-on bonuses,” Robinson said. “We’re looking at partnerships with local restaurants to supply labor or subcontract where possible.”
However, Robinson also said that some locations may remain closed.
“Even with that stated, not all operations will open, especially this late into the semester,” Robinson said.
Some progress, however, has been made since the beginning of the semester. Montclair State Dining Services announced on Oct. 18 that the Red Hawk Diner will be open Sunday through Thursday from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m. for Grubhub pick up.
Tom Coraggio, a senior filmmaking major, shared how happy he was to hear about another dining option becoming available.
“I think that’s great,” Coraggio said. “I’ve been told they have delicious milkshakes, so I hope they still have those. More options are a great thing, especially late at night.”