After a closure due to supply chain shortages, Simpson Dining Hall has reopened. It once again features an all-day breakfast, a wide selection of deserts and several options for those with dietary restrictions.
This news comes shortly after Loyola Dining announced Simpson Dining Hall would be closed indefinitely starting Sept. 20. The announcement came with several other hours changes and other closings on campus.
In a Sept. 17 Instagram post, Loyola Campus Dining stated, “LUC dining will be temporarily limiting hours to ensure that our dining experiences are best serviced.”
“As the national pandemic-caused labor shortages continue, modifications to location availability ensure that students are able to have the best service and dining experience possible,” said Heather Dotchel, a corporate communication representative from Aramark—the school’s food service provider.
In an Instagram post Sept. 23, Loyola Dining Services announced Simpson would return to standard hours Sept. 25.
“We are appreciative of the patience, understanding and flexibility that our students, faculty and staff have shown,” Anna Rozenich, a Loyola spokesperson, said. “We are pleased that Simpson Hall dining options are now available to them.”
The university has been struggling with opening facilities at full capacity this year in light of the labor shortages due to the pandemic, The Phoenix reported. Rozenich acknowledged Loyola has been hit by the nationwide shortages.
“University, community and vendor partners are not immune from these employment trends,” Rozenich said.
Labor shortages have been a dilemma in the U.S. since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020. Nearly three million people were reluctant to look for work in fear of catching the virus as recently as May, the Associated Press reported.
Rozenich said Loyola and Aramark are doing, “Everything they can,” to keep the dining halls running smoothly.
Prior to its temporary closure, Simpson was the dining hall on campus offering gluten-free, allergy-free and vegan options. The station containing gluten-free and vegan options, True Balance, was moved to de Nobili Dining Hall temporarily.
“I was annoyed that the options got limited, but I understand the reason why,” said Alayna Bland, a 17-year-old chemistry major.
Sophia Paudel, a 19-year-old advertising and public relations major, expressed her disappointment in the closure of Simpson.
“I usually went there,” Paudel said. “I’m vegetarian. I went there for most dinners.”
Dominic Rincker, an 18-year-old first-year studying music and biology who prefers a vegan diet, was, “Sad to hear” of the closure.
“The main effect on my routine is that I spend more time at meals because I have to go to Damen more,” Rincker said. “It’s hard to find multiple vegan dishes to choose from…They’re often meat substitutions rather than actual vegan dishes.”
Simpson is also the nearest dining hall to several residence halls on the south side of campus. For some students, the closure meant a change in daily routine and extra time out of their day, as they had to have their meals in dining halls out of their way.
“It’s disappointing and inconvenient because my dorm is so close,” Paudel said.
The dining faculty understands that students are frustrated, said Dotchel, adding they want to “Ensure that students are able to have the best experience possible,” by reopening the location as soon as possible.
“The pause enabled LUC Dining to reassess the services provided and find a way to meet what students said they wanted most,” she said.
Dotchel declined to respond when questioned about what Aramark is doing to prevent future closures, in addition to declining specifics about how many employees there are this year compared to past.
While Simpson only had a brief closure, other dining areas on campus have also been affected by the shortages.
The original Instagram post stated that, effective Sept. 20, Oath Pizza, located in the Damen Food Court and Connections Café between the Information Commons and Cudahy Library will be closed.
Other places, such as the Bleecker St. Cafe in Damen, Burger Studio in the Damen Food Court and Engrained Café in San Francisco residence hall, have had changes to their hours.