Dine-in, mobile ordering, Merchants on Points: Options for dining safely during the pandemic

<p>Students scan into the Brodhead Center on West Campus.</p>

Students scan into the Brodhead Center on West Campus.

To the casual observer, the steady stream of students entering and exiting the Brodhead Center wouldn’t appear to be a shocking departure from the normal campus dining scene. But stepping inside West Campus’ main dining hall reveals the strange new world of eating at Duke.

As Duke Dining services continue to adapt to COVID-19 with reduced indoor seating and other social distancing guidelines, many students have turned to the Duke Dine-Out Mobile Ordering app, which allows students to avoid long wait times and crowding. 

Mobile orders had increased daily and averaged “close to 40% of the transactions for the venues offering this service” as of Sept. 3, Executive Director of Dining Robert Coffey wrote in an email. 

Through the Duke Dine-Out Mobile Ordering app, students can order from 15 on-campus dining locations:

  • Il Forno
  • Sazon
  • Ginger & Soy
  • Au Bon Pain
  • JB’s Roasts & Chops
  • Café
  • Farmstead
  • Sprout
  • The Loop
  • McDonald’s
  • Beyu Blue
  • Red Mango
  • Thrive Kitchen
  • Trinity Café
  • Pitchfork’s
  • Saladelia Perkins
  • The Freeman Center

Some of these locations, such as McDonald’s and Thrive Kitchen, have delivery options. During lunch, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., students can collect their orders from the Crown Commons near the Brodhead Center. 

Another dining option is the Merchants on Points program, which allows students to use food points and order food delivered from several Durham restaurants. Students can pick up their food at designated pick-up spots distributed across campus. The following vendors participate in Merchants on Points: 

  • Devil’s Pizzeria
  • Enzo’s Pizza Co.
  • Jimmy John’s
  • The Loop
  • MediTerra Grill
  • Naan Stop
  • Sake Bomb
  • Sushi Love
  • Zweli’s

Washington Duke Inn residents can use their food points at all on-campus locations, and they also have the option to order hotel room service. 

Duke Dining has implemented numerous changes to facilitate a safe dining experience. 

“Reopening during this pandemic, which we had no historical data for, was planned out very carefully and the safety of our Duke community and team members was paramount,” Coffey wrote.

Two-thirds of Duke’s dining venues are currently open, Coffey wrote. This includes Marketplace and Trinity Café on East Café and most of the restaurants in the Brodhead Center. 

Many locations have changed their hours to accommodate new COVID-19 guidelines. For example, Pitchfork’s, which typically operates 24/7, has recently restricted its hours to 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

Indoor seating has been restricted to ensure appropriate social distancing. For instance, JB’s Roasts and Chops has removed many of its booth tables to minimize the number of diners. Outside, tables are distanced and seat one person each.

First-year football player Khilan Walker is particularly excited about his Duke Dining options. Referring to the Brodhead Center, he explained, ​“We can use our points anywhere on campus. I mostly get food at the WU. WU gang for life!” 

Duke Dining will continue to monitor this new model and will make adjustments if necessary. Vendors are working closely with the Duke University Student Dining Advisory Committee, responding to feedback and recommendations through weekly Zoom meetings. 

Pilar Kelly

Pilar Kelly is a Trinity junior and an opinion columnist for The Chronicle's 118th volume.


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