Buffeterias closed in cost-cutting move
By Colleen MacPherson
This fall, three of the seven buffeterias on campus will no longer be open for business, a move designed to improve the University’s financially ailing Food Services operation.
John Olson, director of Consumer Services, said the food outlets in the Western College of Veterinary Medicine and the Health Sciences Building are closed permanently. The third outlet, in Geology, will remain closed for this academic year while its operation is evaluated. One possible outcome of that evaluation may be that “we revamp it into another type of operation”, most likely a University-owned Tim Hortons® franchise.
Assuming regular patrons of the closed buffeterias make use of other food outlets, including the recently expanded services in Marquis Hall, Olson expects the closures will produce savings of about $30,000 this year for Food Services. Some five part-time buffeteria positions have been eliminated, with those employees having the option of bumping into other jobs.
Both the Vet-Med and Health Science buffeterias were “marginal at best” in terms of sales due to their locations in smaller colleges and away from the main campus traffic flow, said Olson. But for a food operation that has been in the red for the past three to four years, ‘marginal’ is no longer good enough.
“It (Food Services) has always been an operation bordering on the threshold of financial viability,” he said, due in large part to the fact “we operate in the private sector with public-sector labour costs.” He added that the entire Food Services operation is “under the microscope” and there have been other decisions made to improve operating efficiencies that he expects “will have an overall net impact on our bottom line of $150,000 this year”.
Olson said the effect of all the changes will be monitored carefully, and he did not rule out even more reorganization within Food Services.
“We plan to keep going until we have some black ink”.