The Penn Pavilion still faces the challenge of getting more customers, as its popularity increased slowly throughout the semester.
The Pavilion is currently serving between 1,500 to 1,700 people per day, said Director of Dining Services Robert Coffey, which is approximately the same as in September. Duke Dining’s goal for the Pavilion is to serve 2,000 people per day. In an effort to increase customer interest, Duke Dining has implemented several student suggestions, including adding more selections to the salad bar and providing daily specials.
“We are here to serve the students and Duke community and want to engage in conversations with the Duke community to ensure we are providing a program customers are desiring,” Coffey said. “We have heard some very positive feedback from students on the changes and additions we have been making.”
Coffey also noted that Duke Dining is planning to continue to tweak the Pavilion’s services in response to feedback from Duke Student Government and Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee, as well as from individual students.
The biggest challenge facing the Pavilion is the limited kitchen and serving space compared to the Great Hall, said DUSDAC co-Chair Chris Taylor, a senior. He noted that the Pavilion staff has also had limited time to be trained and to adjust to the new equipment.
“This [challenge] made it take a little longer for the Pavilion to find its groove, but I think the workers have adjusted,” Taylor said. “The Pavilion has done well at handling the same number of customers as the Great Hall, even with less kitchen and serving space.”
Daniele Armaleo, a regular customer at the Pavilion, said he enjoys the ambiance more than that of the Great Hall.
“The atmosphere is better simply because of the architecture,” said Armaleo, associate professor of the practice of biology. “I tend to come here more frequently than I did to the Great Hall—I think it was just too constrained and noisy.”
Freshman Arielle Kahn said she has started having lunch at the Pavilion because of its newly expanded salad bar. She also noted that it seems cleaner and less crowded than other eateries on campus.
“It’s a lot better than Marketplace,” Kahn said. “I really like that it has such a big selection. I’ll definitely come here a lot next year.”
Despite the improvements, sophomore Ben Balin said he believes that the Pavilion is still struggling to meet its customer count goals due to its non-central location.
“It’s kind of out of way—I only come here once in a while,” Balin said. “If people consistently come here, it may become a thing.”
Looking toward next semester, Taylor said students can look forward to more improvements in the services offered by the Pavilion, and dissatisfied students should offer suggestions.
“[Duke Dining is] constantly looking for more suggestions, and they are constantly asking us for more suggestions and input,” Taylor said. “We hope that it will continue to improve and become more popular, as this will reduce the strain on other vendors.”