As colleges prepare to reopen, one aspect of campus life is being reconfigured: dining halls.
Dining halls, long a place to gather and feast upon all-you-can-eat options, are shifting to takeout or reservation services.
Some schools are turning to platforms like OpenTable and Grubhub to help manage takeout and dining hall capacity.
Others are turning to robots.
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For college students, the days of filling your plate from all-you-can-eat buffets and crowding around a dining hall table are gone — or at least paused.
Instead, students returning to campus this year may find unlimited soft-serve machines and impromptu dinner catch-ups replaced with reservations ahead of time, prepackaged or preordered meals, and ordering kiosks.
Restaurant-reservation software company OpenTable is one vendor that’s seen increased demand, according to COO Andrea Johnston. Schools like Cornell University and University of Wisconsin-Madison have already signed on to use the service to handle dining hall capacity.
“We actually received a lot of inbound from a lot of different places, but notably from colleges,” Johnston said. “They were trying to think through this.”
Students at schools using the software can either go through the app or their college’s website to make a reservation at a dining hall; they’ll also be able to join a virtual waitlist if the dining hall is all booked up. Johnston also said that colleges will set aside some tables for walk-ins.
But, as of right now, the software doesn’t have a group dining function — unlike the usual OpenTable functionality, where restaurant-goers can book for a group.
So if you wanted to dine with a friend, Johnston said, you would have to book a reservation at the same time. How close you can get depends on how the college is handling social distancing measures.
Another service is cutting out the in-person dining altogether. Grubhub, a …read more
Source:: Business Insider