The line to enter the east side of Market Square at noon on a weekday reached the front of Samuelson Hall while the other entrance line stretched down the BLUU staircase. The line for Chick-fil-A went outside its newly opened doors.
As students returned to campus, so have the crowdedness and long lines at Market Square and other TCU dining facilities.
“We expected it to be crowded and then our (first-year) class came in higher than expected also,” Kathy Cavins-Tull, vice chancellor of student affairs said.
Market Square serves about 5,000 meals a day, Cavins-Tull said. There is a cycle of to three separate waves of students and faculty who eat a complete lunch or dinner before leaving.
A higher yield on accepted students ballooned the size of the class of 2017. This year, TCU’s first-year class brought 1,934 students to campus, Cavin-Tulls said.
“The complicating issue in it is that we have to house them, feed them and put them in classrooms,” she said.
A large first-year class and a rising sophomore retention rate have crowded residence halls and dining facilities alike. However, a crowded lunch hour is not a new problem at Market Square.
“I remember one Friday during my spring semester [of freshman year], I went to the BLUU and it was so packed that you couldn’t even move,” said Alex Erwin, a senior French and anthropology double major.
“I just gave up, left and decided to eat lunch after class,” Erwin said, laughing.
“Already we’re seeing Chick-fil-A take between 1,400 and 1,700 students out of Market Square,” Cavins-Tull said of the popular new addition to the BLUU.
Cavins-Tull said Chick-fil-A replaced 1873 because of its inability to draw enough students out of Market Square during busy hours.
“We had good food [at 1873], but it wasn’t branded food so students weren’t eating it,” Cavins-Tull said, “You could go down there during lunchtime and it would be empty.”
Cavins-Tull said a dining facility containing small restaurants may be built in Worth Hills to accommodate the swelling student population and student demand.
“I think even having just like a grab-and-go restaurant, especially coming from Worth Hills going to class, would be really great,” said Erwin.
The long lines and cramped spaces don’t bother some, like Brachman Hall Director Jeff Alexander.
“I really enjoy being in line and getting to meet people at Market Square,” said Alexander.
Unlike some larger universities, TCU has a singular, central dining location to unite the campus.
“Of course when you’re trying to get your food it’s kind of a pain,” Alexander said, “but the community that it builds and the way it brings people together; I actually think that’s really special.”
Cavins-Tull said she worries that any future dining facility in Worth Hills could hurt that community spirit and split the campus.
“We don’t want it to be a Greek building and then the Market Square area to be a non-Greek building,” said Cavins-Tull.
Cavins-Tull said she hopes a multipurpose dining facility in Worth Hills will be built by 2015. Early options for small restaurants in the building include a bistro, a grill, a coffee shop and a Tex-Mex restaurant.