By Nick Vasquez, Feb. 8, 2022

After having limited dining options in the fall, Cal Poly Pomona’s Foundation Dining Services is planning on opening six more retail restaurants on campus for the spring semester. This includes all restaurants in the BSC, Round Table, Carl’s Jr., Element Coffee & Food and Saddles Café.

According to an email sent out by the CPP Foundation, several venues opened on Jan. 24: Element Coffee & Food, Fitbites at Vista, Innovation Brew Works, Panda Express, Pony Express, Qdoba, Starbucks, Subway, Brewery Café, Centerpointe, Lollicup, Vista Market and Farm Store. In addition, Fresh Escape, Poly Fresh Market, Polly Trolley, Round Table and Saddles Café will open Monday, Feb. 7.

CPP’s Director of Dining Services Aaron Neilson detailed the difficulties of reopening restaurants on campus after being shut down for over a year due to COVID-19.

Foundation Dining Services is expected to offer more dining options on campus, including Subway located in the BSC. (Lauren Chavez | The Poly Post)

“In the fall, we had about 200 positions open for Centerpointe, and other areas since July, and we were getting very little activity,” said Neilson. “We would be in a similar situation in the spring but not quite so bad because we have returning students. We rely on returning students to come back, and in the fall, we had zero because of COVID. That was a rough fall, and we recognize that we were not providing a level of service that we wanted to.”

Neilson also provided additional details as to why the dining options were limited last semester.

“We planned on not opening most of the operations because of the remote nature of most of the classes,” Neilson said. “We planned on the campus activity being about 50% of a normal year, and in reality, it ended up being around 20%.”

With most restaurants on campus set to open before classes move to in-person instruction on Feb. 14, campus activity is expected to increase.  All on-campus restaurants will be featured on GrubHub to improve convenience for students.

The number of employees for on-campus dining is also projected to increase this semester. Martha DeAlba, manager of residential dining, estimates there will be at least 120 employees at Centerpointe alone compared to only 60 last semester.

Centerpointe has been operating since January, and it is currently open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. on weekdays, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturdays and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays. According to DeAlba, residential dining will feature new foods such as omelets, waffles and homemade desserts along with new vegan options.

“This semester will be night and day compared to last semester in terms of the quality of service we will provide,” said DeAlba.

While there are dining options for students currently living on campus, there are expected to be delays with the reopening of some restaurants and limited hours for those that are open due to restaurants being understaffed.

Rosa Morales-Jimenez, retail dining manager, provided details on the hours the food court restaurants are going to be open.

“It just depends. Let’s just say we’re not busy, then we’re going to limit hours, but if we are busy then we’re going to expand hours,” said Morales-Jimenez.  “The sales and having enough employees to operate the location is going to determine this.”

For instance, Round Table will only be open from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. because those are dinner hours and that is expected to be the most popular times for that restaurant. Carl’s Jr., on the other hand, is expected to only be open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

COVID-19 protocols will be heavily enforced for on-campus dining.  Employees are now required to wear KN95 masks, complete the campus’ online health screening before coming to work, take their temperature once arriving to work and wash their hands regularly. Students are required to wear a mask unless they are actively eating or drinking.  There will also be more outside seating provided at the food court and at Centerpointe this semester.

Most restaurants are expected to open within the next two weeks, but there could be changes due to COVID-19. As of now, Poly Fresh and Carl’s Jr. are set to open later than expected. Poly Fresh is expected to open Wednesday, Feb. 9 and Carl’s Jr. is expected to open Monday, Feb. 21. Details and updates on restaurants re-opening can be found on the CPP Dining Services website.


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