Lunchtime crowd slows on campus

Because of low-carb dieters and a lack of lunchtime employees, area eateries are lagging.

Jared Roddy

Some restaurant owners in Stadium Village said filling their tables has been more difficult this year than in years past.

Because of low-carbohydrate diets, more choices in Coffman Union and a lack of lunchtime employees, area eateries are lagging.

Kim Nguyen, owner of Perry’s Pizza, said her lunch rush has decreased since last year.

“Right now lunch is really slow,” Nguyen said. “A lot of students are eating in the dorms and at Coffman. And low-carb dieters come in and don’t want to eat pizza; that hurts a lot.”

Nguyen is also having trouble having a large-enough staff.

“They’re really young. The people who apply are only 18 or 19,” Nguyen said. “We don’t want to hire them, because they sneak their friends in and serve them (alcohol).”

Though she said she wanted older servers, Nguyen had just hired two younger staffers.

Experience was also an issue. Nguyen said few applicants had enough, or any, experience.

“The first thing we ask them when they come in for an interview is their age,” Nguyen said. “Then we ask if they have experience. If they have the experience, we’ll give them a chance.”

Perry’s Pizza is not the only business singing the lunchtime blues.

Campus Pizza’s general manager Jim Rosvold said that when school began, the problem wasn’t a lack of customers – it was a lack of lunchtime employees.

“Since the University switched to semesters, it seems like all the core courses are offered during lunch,” Rosvold said. “And college students are here to go to college.”

Rosvold said he hired five new employees in the last week to fill the gaps for the lunch hour.

“Sixty percent of our day comes from lunch,” Rosvold said. “It’s frustrating for us and the customers if you’re constantly switching staff during a shift.”

Bruegger’s Bagels general manager Michelle Smolik said business has not been as brisk as in previous years. Besides low-carb diets, she said, the reopening of Coffman Union’s food court also hurt.

Bona Vietnamese Restaurant owner Hien Tran also said her business had been lagging, but attributed it to the economy and the restaurant’s recent location shift.

“But we still get a lot of Asian students, because we serve traditional food cheap,” Tran said.

Tran said she did not have any trouble finding employees, because most of her staff is family.

Chain restaurants, such as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Subway, and Erbert and Gerbert’s reported average sales and no problems staffing their shifts.

Dinkytown Business Association President Skott Johnson also said he had not heard of any crashes in sales, or rushes on hiring in his area. His business had been printing applications for other businesses by the hundreds.