The Student News Site of Biola University

The Chimes

The Student News Site of Biola University

The Chimes

The Student News Site of Biola University

The Chimes

What do students want from Cafe Biola?

Cafe Biola’s “award-winning” reputation does not precede itself
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CHIMES//FILE

When considering the lackluster areas of the Biola experience, no area shines like the rest, or should I say is dull quite like the rest, as the cafeteria. However, for as much as ‘The Caf’ is disliked, is it justified? Or have we allowed our hive-mindedness to make a mountain out of a molehill? 

WHAT IS “THE CAF”

Cafe Biola, also known as ‘The Caf’ among the Biola community, is the primary dining hall for most on-campus students. Cafe Biola’s website says, “The Caf offers three entrees, a large salad bar, two beverage bars, a deli market (which offers a specialty salad each day and various deli meats, cheeses, and breads for your favorite sandwich), desserts, soft-serve and hard ice cream, soups — all you can eat! There are 20 meals served per week (three meals per day Sunday through Friday, and brunch and dinner on Saturday).”

Their website states that they provide “an excellent food service program for all students, employees and guests. Bon Appetit, Biola’s food service contractor, has won awards in the food service industry for being a trendsetter.” While this may be true, what do the students, who are their customers, have to say about this “award-winning” food?

STUDENT THOUGHTS

Caitlyn Palermo, senior cinema and media arts major, said, “I have been eating at the Caf for two to three years now since 2021.” 

When asked how she would rate the food on a scale of 1 to 10, with ‘1’ being disgusting and ‘10’ being scrumptious, she said, “On my scale, it would be a four. Most of the food is consumable but not tasty, unfortunately.” 

In addition, when asked about her thoughts on what they could do to improve, she said, “Just having a consistent variety of food that tastes good. It seems that the Caf is only good on big days like Cafsgiving, prospective students days, etc. Also having more options for those with dietary restrictions as they often say they can never eat at the caf forcing them elsewhere.”

Danielle Therese Ty, senior communications sciences and disorders, echoed Palermo’s sentiments, saying “I would rate the Caf like a three.” 

When asked how she would improve the dining experience, she said “ Sometimes the produce is all wilted. They put the fresh ones on top and when you get to the bottom you get the wilted ones. Sometimes there are even flies in it.” 

LACK OF ACCOMMODATIONS

Palermo’s initial comment on the Caf’s lack of accommodations is a sentiment widely echoed by the Biola student body. According to Biola University, “Students with special dietary needs may be eligible to enroll in our Special Diet Accommodation program.” However, when clicking on the hyperlink that is supposed to contain information about how to get more information about this program, it instead directs students to a page containing meal plan rates. This was reflective of how students with special dietary needs often feel like an afterthought to the Caf.

Sophomore engineering major Britton Williams commented, “When I was really sick and was limiting my diet because I couldn’t eat certain things like dairy to gluten there was literally nothing to eat. There’s not really any good options for people who have dairy or gluten sensitivities.” 

For most students with specific dietary needs, getting their money’s worth out of the Caf’s offerings seems to be a daunting task.

According to Bon Appetit’s website, in response to students on campus with dietary restrictions, they offer a wide variety of services. “This includes communication about and modification to existing menu items, special preparation of menu items, and access to special products as agreed upon with students.” However, it does not appear that this accurately reflects the student experience.

THE CAF RESPONDS

Beverly Cain, senior director of Auxiliary Services, mentions that they review comment cards that students leave at the exit of the cafeteria. 

Cain says, “We also conduct a food service survey once a year which will go out to students early this semester.  Lastly, there is a feedback opportunity on Bon Appetit’s website.” 

According to Cain, “All food venues on campus are managed by Bon Appetit so the goal is not to provide healthy competition between the eateries, but to provide variety both in food and hours. Students can use their flex or student dollars at all eateries at Biola.”

In addition, the Caf has made significant quality-of-life improvements over the past few years, repainting various parts of the establishment, finally reopening the ski lodge seating area that has been closed for years and building a covered seating area. For a typical restaurant experience, these would be great things that would improve the overall experience and draw in customers who are not just going for the food. However, people do not visit the caf for the aesthetic and service, just the food, so these improvements do not translate well to Cafe Biola. 

Unfortunately, the longer that Biola strives to make the dining experience marketable instead of consumable, the longer this issue will persist. The Caf needs to invest less in the experience and invest solely in quality food if they hope to improve student feedback. Should the caf choose to focus solely on improving the quality of the food served and nothing else, the student body would likely have a much better overall experience, and would solve the overarching problem with Biola’s food services, understanding what the students truly want!

 

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About the Contributors
Monica Salazar-Jimenez
Monica Salazar-Jimenez, Opinions Editor
Monica Salazar-Jimenez is a senior Journalism major with a concentration in visual media who loves long walks at the park, iced chais, and race cars.
Kenny Cook
Kenny Cook, Staff Writer
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