Tight Knit Dining Experience in the Temporary Crossroads Cafeteria

From+left+to+right%3A+Jesse+Schultz%2C+Mariah+Mielke%2C+Andrew+Schroeder.+Photo+by%3A+Sam+Scheltens.

From left to right: Jesse Schultz, Mariah Mielke, Andrew Schroeder. Photo by: Sam Scheltens.

Sam Scheltens

Students at Concordia University Chicago returned from their winter break this year to discover that the Crossroads cafeteria in the Koehneke Community Center, or the KCC, had been moved to the  “Cougar Den.”

Originally announced in January 2020, Concordia intended to introduce a newly renovated cafeteria for the 2020-2021 academic year, alongside an upgraded meal plan, allowing students full access to dining from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Concordia had planned to finish these renovations over the summer of last year, but they had postponed construction until this semester. 

With the cafeteria, Subway, and the Grill all in one place, many students contend with tight quarters around meal times. 

“It seems like everyone is on top of each other,” said Zach Cicero, a CUC junior. “It gets a little crowded.”

Even with tables and seating arrangements set up to provide the best social distancing practices, students still can’t help but feel a little close to their peers while dining. 

“I don’t appreciate how crammed it is,” said Micah Brown, a CUC senior. “Well, I do really appreciate how everything is all in one area, so you’re not walking all across the cafeteria.” 

Frank Budig, general manager for Sodexo, Concordia’s catering service, has also noted the trouble the kitchen staff faced with the new situation. 

Budig’s goal is to make food to order as much as possible, which now requires his staff to use multiple kitchens. “We have moved our staff away from preparing foods only in the main kitchen,” Budig said. “This has forced the staff to split up in different areas and move food from floor to floor within KCC.”  

Just recently, the kitchen celebrated ‘Nostalgia Day’, and many of the staff took the opportunity to dress up.  Lunch on January 27 looked like a scene straight out of Grease. Students were surprised with the appearance of a jukebox, which played funky tunes throughout the rest of the week. 

Many students and even kitchen staff have noticed the high morale and positive community among the students in their adjusted dining space. “Some students have actually commented how they like the increase in traffic flow and bringing the lower level to ’life’ since we have moved the serving line to the lower level,” Budig said. 

“Everyone, from athletes to regular students, to church workers, to faculty and staff, are all now in one place,” Cicero said.  “It builds more of a community.”

Renovations to the Crossroads cafeteria are scheduled to continue through May 2021. More information can be found at the @concordia_sodexocuc Instagram page, or on Facebook at CUCDiningServices.