I have many gripes with suburban America. One of which is my dislike for huge roads clogging up our towns and cities. Cars are king, especially in suburban cities such as Elmhurst, even if there is a relatively walkable area downtown.
Elmhurst University’s campus is very walkable. However, off-campus, it’s practically required to have a car to get anywhere.
That’s a resource I — and many others — do not have. It’s nearly impossible to get to McDonalds, Popeyes, or even Target, without a car. It’s certainly far more dangerous.
This is all to say, for those students living on campus (close to 1,000 based on dorm capacity), and for those without a car on campus with them, a lot of times their only reasonable option for food is the Main Café or the Roost.
This isn’t always bad. The specials in the café are generally pretty good, and the Roost has some solid options. The bigger issue is actually having time to eat.
It can be difficult to eat if you have something going on during the day, especially on weekends. The main café is closed by 6:30 p.m., and the Roost doesn’t open until 6 p.m.
The Roost also rarely stays open for its full hours on the weekends. I’ve seen it close before 8 p.m. on a Saturday — it was scheduled to stay open until 10 p.m.
EU’s contracted food supplier, Chartwells, now trying to brand themselves as “Elmhurst Eats,” is not very clear in their communication.
They have a website where hours for each dining location are posted — this is very useful on the weekends, EU’s campus dining page is almost never accurate.
Even then, I’ve run into days where half of the Roost will be closed for hours, and the website will show it as open.
This begs the question: why?
Why do dining hours change with little warning? Why is the main café open for less than nine hours each weekday? Why is there a gap in dining service at all?
For students without a car, there’s no other option than to bend to Chartwell’s whims — why are we willing to pay so much to do so?
The solution is simple. The main cafeteria could stay open from open to close, instead of closing between 10:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.
The Roost could keep consistent hours every day of the week, or even stay open 24 hours a day. Even if the actual food service areas are closed, at least having the option to buy a package of ramen or cereal would be a start.
I know this likely won’t happen. Chartwells, like any other company, is designed to make money.
They’ve decided the hours they’ve set is the best way to make money, whether it’s because the most students come during those times, or because it’s the best way to avoid paying employees for more hours, or for some other reason I couldn’t imagine.
I don’t know for sure the reason why dining on campus is like this. Chartwells did not respond to The Leader’s request for an interview.
I do know this: EU residents deserve to eat when they are hungry. They deserve a consistent schedule for dining. Ideally, campus residents can eat at any time of day or night they please, but at the very least, they are deserving of better communication.