The Inn Between, JCU’s cafeteria alternative for on-campus dining, is currently experiencing an understaffing situation.
Students have been consequentially tolerating longer wait times, sometimes as long as twenty minutes to receive their orders.
The dilemma stems from a potential discrepancy in the number of workers servicing the stations at the popular eating area at different times of the day, as well as varying amounts of business received.
“The speed of service depends on the time you come to the Inn Between,” says freshman Adriana Nelson. “Sometimes it takes longer than other times. On average I wait about ten minutes for my order.”
“Historically, the slowest hours at the Inn Between have been between 2 to 5 p.m.,” explains David Turska, the head of JCU Dining Services, the department that manages all on-campus dining options, “and the busiest are in the evening, after 6 p.m.” Evening events such as nighttime masses and sports team practices contribute to the spike in business beginning after this hour. “All 120 guys on the football team will come in together for dinner, and then of course, it can get hectic,” Turska said.
Although Turska claims there are “always staffing issues,” it can prove even more difficult to maintain a full staff for the evening shifts, given that the Inn Between employees are members of a labor union in which there is internal competition for the more regular positions available.
“The workers will want the shifts that are the most friendly with their personal schedule,” says Turska. In this case, those during the day are – on account of both a fuller staff and routinely slower business – not as vulnerable to all the inconveniences associated with a short staff.
Although there may be an equal number of jobs available for both halves of the day, the daytime slots will likely be lapped up far more quickly than the less preferable evening ones, despite the growing trend that it is at night when the eating area receives the bulk of its business.
Ideally, there are to be two workers assigned to each station, where they remain for the duration of their shift; in this way, workers have a “set station” with which they may be most familiar. However, if some of those workers take their guaranteed half-hour break and in their absence business picks up, it can force their coworkers to have to jump from station to station—become “floaters”—to compensate. A floater might work both the deli and the grill stations within the same shift, in accordance with the demands of the students they are serving that day.
The Inn Between declined to comment, as their employees expressed concerns regarding a conflict of interest in commenting to The Carroll News.
Turska adds that, aside from a single instance the Office of Dining Services has not received any negative feedback from students or staff concerning increased wait times, and that he is highly receptive to suggestions for the improvement of on-campus dining quality—“that is, after all, what we’re here for.”