Coffman restaurants petitioned for longeroperating hours

Erik Nelson

Tricia Kingsley came to Coffman Union before a night class recently to eat dinner, but was surprised to find only Bene Pizza and the M Deli open.

Kingsley, a first-year University student, previously visited the dining area of Coffman only around noon, when the union’s food court is livelier. She said she was surprised and frustrated that more restaurants weren’t open later than 4 p.m. in the Minnesota Marketplace.

And she’s not alone.

The Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors recently sent a petition signed by more than 600 students and other Coffman patrons to University Dining Services representatives asking for expanded food court hours.

Chuck Hernick, Twin Cities Student Unions Board of Governors president, said the group set up a table outside the Minnesota Marketplace after the first week of classes to get feedback on the food court’s operations.

Currently, all of the food options in the Minnesota Marketplace except Bene Pizza close at or before 4 p.m. Monday through Friday, and none are open over the weekend.

Hernick said he has heard from people who came from as far away as Wisconsin to visit the state’s first Chick-Fil-A, only to find the restaurant closed once they arrived.

After gathering signatures, the Board of Governors presented three requests to UDS representatives during the first week of February, asking them to keep the Minnesota Marketplace open until 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. They also requested Einstein Bros Bagels stay open Saturdays from noon to 7 p.m. and that the entire Minnesota Marketplace remain open on Saturdays, Hernick said.

UDS committed to opening Einstein Bros Bagels on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., a change expected to be in place by the time the new bookstore opens March 3, Hernick said.

Einstein Bros Bagels will also stay open until 6:30 p.m. Monday through Thursday, doubling the choices available from the Minnesota Marketplace now, he said.

The challenge comes in convincing UDS’ parent company, Aramark, to hire more employees and pay for staffing during the additional hours, Hernick said.

“It’s going to be a process because we have to justify it to them financially,” he said.

Students, staff, faculty and others using the union may complete an online survey with information regarding Coffman food service at www.coffman.umn.edu/survey.php.

Lynne Nelson is a freelance writer. The freelance editor welcomes comments at [email protected]