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What’s with the wait? Students share perspectives on long Brodhead Center lines

First-year Ella Davis sometimes has to show up to the Brodhead Center 30 minutes before she plans to meet up with a friend to receive her food on time.

Sophomore Brooks Finby eats lunch and dinner at the Brodhead Center every day. When he is in the building for lunch between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., it is often reliably congested, as he typically waits around ten minutes to receive his food. Finby is not particularly upset about the wait times because of the large ratio of students to employees.

“They are doing the best they can,” Finby said. “There are a lot more people on campus than last year, and they are understaffed.”

Many students share the same sentiment as Finby. Davis acknowledges that the Brodhead Center is understaffed and has sympathy for the employees but believes that the wait times go beyond these specific issues. 

“I really do think that the structural layout plays a big part of it,” Davis said. “If you put something that is a big attraction at the front of [the Brodhead Center], then more people are going to go there. So I think that restaurants need to spread through different floors, and that could space people out because many times students are choosing restaurants out of convenience.”

For it’s an even more difficult situation when she wants to get work done between classes but only has an hour and 45 minutes to grab lunch, head on the C1 and complete an assignment. 

Junior Maggie Dercole has strategized to allocate enough time for lunch in her schedule to combat the wait times. She found that the building is the busiest before noon, so she has to plan ahead or skip lunch altogether. Most days, she will come into the Brodhead Center 30 to 40 minutes early, considering there may be a hold-up in receiving her food. She is often willing to wait for food at her most frequented locations, Ginger and Soy, Skillet and Gyotaku, where she waits around 15 minutes at the most. However, to avoid a wait entirely, Dercole prefers mobile order.

The Duke Dine-Out Mobile Ordering application makes pickup available through mobile ordering at all of Brodhead’s locations except for The Devil’s Krafthouse, Gyotaku, Il Forno, Sazón and Panera, of which the latter three are closed for training. In September 2020, the app had approximately 9,000 users

Though mobile ordering can be helpful to an extent, Dercole finds that restaurants are often offline or closed for training. 

“They are slowly trying to get that done, but a lot of students are tired at the idea of having to wait for their mobile order and end up waiting the same or just as long as students that have not ordered ahead,” Dercole said. “That would be the best solution, but because it is not implemented efficiently, it is a moot point.”

Besides updating the mobile ordering app to make it run more efficiently to prevent technological difficulties, Dercole believes that a plausible solution to the wait could be providing students with wait time estimates. By administering a live update program on the Mobile Order app, students would be able to see the number of people in line and an estimated wait time to receive their food at each location, Dercole explained. 

“There are no people in this restaurant, so you can plan ahead. When I get to [Brodhead], I am going to head straight over there instead of wandering around and trying to check if there are lines,” Dercole said. Indiana University has implemented such a system, with the GrubHub app alerting students about the number of people in line at specific locations. 

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