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Lunch Crowds

Q

I have a question about serving lunch. Very large groups have meetings at
the Mesa Lab, etc., from time to time, and when they go to lunch in the
cafeteria, some employees have to readjust their lunch time or stand in
line for a while. I was wondering if we could have, say, employees at 11:30
a.m.- 12:30 p.m. and the public from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., or something like
that. I know as spring and the 40th anniversary progress, we will be having
this situation more and more. Thank you for your consideration.

Answered on April 13, 2000

A

We appreciate your question, as UCAR does indeed have various groups that
use our cafeterias in addition to our regular staff. These are often
conferences or symposia that support some aspect of UCAR business, or
education and tour groups that provide outreach to the public.

We try to address the situation in several different ways. First and
foremost, we make every effort to schedule the lunch hour for any group at
12:30 p.m. or later. The Education and Tour Program is really great about
following this guideline and usually has one of their staff with the group
to help them find things and speed up the process. Despite our urgings,
however, this doesn't work for all meetings as the organizers may want to
have the break earlier to fit the program, or the meeting may run long or
short. There really is no way to force visitors and guests to have lunch at
a certain hour.

Second, we try to communicate with the staff, either by e-mail or by signs,
if there are likely to be significant extras in the cafeteria on any given
day. You have probably all seen some of these communications. When we are
aware of a large conference, we will put this footnote on the on-line
menus. Our staff gear up for the extras by providing additional servers and
another cashier, and by adjusting production or choosing menus so there is
limited waiting in line. We also offer groups a way to charge for their
entire party, thus speeding up the line.

The best time for staff to come, particularly on these busy days, is 11:30
p.m. to noon, as everything is on the line and ready to go. After 1:00 p.m.
also works if that fits your schedule better. High noon or shortly
thereafter always seems to be the time of choice for people to eat, despite
our best efforts to adjust this. And of course, using your debit card not
only gives you a 15% discount but also speeds up the transaction and line
at any time.

Third, we can offer lunch alternatives to groups. In the past, this has
included everything from special catered lunches served in the Damon Room
or on the second floor of ML and in the meeting rooms or in the cafe atrium
at FL. We also offer a variety of box lunch selections and outdoor options
which some groups have taken advantage of, particularly those using the
tree plaza (as well as some functions at NOAA that are catered by NCAR).
The cafeteria has also opened early, at 11:15 a.m., to allow some groups to
get through before regular staff. We will take this one step further and
offer individuals a pick-up or prepaid lunch or even hold one late for you
if you have a major conflict. Just contact Debbi Naugle (ext. 1147,
naugle@ucar.edu) or myself (ext. 1193, vryan@ucar.edu) and let us know.

Again, thank you for your question--we will continue to try to provide you
with the best service possible.

--Velma Ryan, Food Services and Special Functions Manager