The opening of the new multipurpose building and start of the new Flex 7 meal plan are considered successes after their first semester on campus.
The Flex 7 meal plan has achieved what director of housing and residence life, Craig Allen, hoped it would achieve, as 608 students on campus and 27 non-residents used the plan this semester.
“In talking to students who have it, and in looking at the numbers as far as who enrolled in it and how they’re using it, I think that I would characterize it as a success,” Allen said.
Even with the success of the Flex 7, there are still parts of the meal plan that need to be refined, he said.
“We will make some changes to it, most of them fairly subtle.”
He hinted that there may be “one potentially bigger change” to make the plan more functional, but did not specify what the change could be since it has yet to run through the chain of command of Sodexo, TCU’s partner in dining services.
One part of the plan that will remain the same is that it will not be offered to incoming freshmen.
“We’ve considered it in the past and we’ve considered it again; as of right now, it is not in the plan to offer it to freshmen,” Allen said.
With the rise of the Flex 7, the usage of campus cash has increased, which is primarily because of the new multipurpose building, he said.
“Campus cash usage is up significantly this semester; some of that is, of course, by design,” Allen said. “With the design of the Flex 7 Plan, there is more campus cash available. Even when you look at balances for students, campus cash has gone much faster and at a higher rate than it has in the fall.”
The multipurpose building has also helped the Market Square become more manageable this semester.
“We are serving approximately 3000 meals a week fewer in Market Square than we did in the fall,” Allen said. “To that extent, the multipurpose building has done exactly what we needed it to do: we needed it to offset some of the demand, especially at the peak times, to give students another option.”
Allen said students this semester have had breakfast at Market Square more than any recent time at TCU.
“TCU students are starting their day off right by eating breakfast,” Allen said. “We are doing more breakfasts here at TCU than we have in years, and that’s a good thing. We are busier, but students are getting a good breakfast to start their day.”
The multipurpose building’s restaurants have also shined, with the Tex-Mex station “Caliente” leading in sales, Allen said. This was not much of a surprise to him, as there is not any other place that offers Tex-Mex on campus.
There are several potential revisions that could be made in the foreseeable future in regards to the function of the restaurants in the multipurpose building, Allen said.
One example, is the burger location “O’Briens”, to call people over to get their food when it is ready, instead of having people stand around waiting for their food, Allen said.
There may also be a system where the menu for “Magnolias” will be sent out to students so they know what the restaurant is offering on a certain day, he said.
For all of the restaurants, students should look out next year for more daily specials and limited time offers, Allen said.
“What we really wanted to do first was have an established menu that the cooks knew how to cook, and it takes time to do that,” Allen said. With the cooks becoming adjusted to the new menus, Allen believes there can be more unique changes made.
“I think we will try to have some value priced options,” Allen said. “Specials will be at a lower price point and may include a drink and a side.”
Allen believes the multipurpose building will continue to be a success, and said that he is happy with what it has offered thus far to students.
“It’s as much a place for students to have an alternative to eat and it’s as much or more so just a place to hang out,” Allen said. “At the end of the day, it’s just great student space. The food is essential, but even if there was no food, I would just be happy to know that we have another space for students to hang out, because we needed that.”
Allen said he did wish the building brought in more business, but he has a positive outlook on it re-opening starting at the beginning of the fall semester.
“I think there are many of us that would have liked to see it sustain a little more business,” Allen said. “We were hoping that it maybe would pull even more folks and that hasn’t happened yet, and I think that’s where making some tweaks to the plan will help us have a really successful opening in the fall.”