The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Hilltop dining expands hours

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The shops in Hilltop Center Food Court have new hours this semester, opening earlier and closing later to accommodate student wishes.

A survey was sent out last semester to students living on upper campus to gather feedback on the use and accessibility of the different shops. Blugold Dining General Manager Christian Wise said the results of this survey showed that many students wanted the shops to stay open longer.

“They were a little bit skewed to maybe we should switch the hours,” Wise said. “We thought, ‘What the heck? Let’s experiment, let’s change the hours.’”

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Wise said that shop hours are entirely dependent on student usage. Hours are evaluated weekly to determine when certain shops are being used and when they are not. If a pattern presents itself over time, Wise said he has no problem altering hours of operation.

All the Hilltop Center shops and the convenience store are now open until 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, with varying opening hours. All the shops are also open seven days a week this semester.

Junior Casey Wick, a student manager at the food court, said students did not seem to be aware of the new hours earlier in the semester.

“The first couple weeks, nobody knew it was even open,” Wick said. “People would randomly walk in and they’d be surprised to see us open.”

Fellow junior food court student manager Alex Buechter has noticed an increase in business during the new hours.

“It’s picked up more as the semester has gone on,” Buechter said. “It’s not extremely busy after nine, but there’s more people that will come in.”

Wise said the new hours, coupled with more students on the declining meal plan this semester, have led to a slight increase in sales at the Hilltop Center shops.

Sophomore Cody Kroening has been in the food court past 9 p.m. and he said he has noticed lots of students taking advantage of the later hours.

“Because it’s open later, people will actually run in before 10 o’clock just so they can get a last meal before they study or something,” Kroening said. “I’ve run in here as the clock’s coming down to get a smoothie.”

Wise said he favors changing operating hours if food is being wasted. Because students tend to want their food quickly, the shops often try to have food already made. But if customers are not buying the food at certain hours, the food is not being used.

“I’m a chef first, and the idea of wasting food sucks,” Wise said.

The new hours are likely to last through the semester and be evaluated again before next fall. Wholesale changes to shop hours require university approval, a process which Wise said can take weeks. However, individual shops may be able to change hours if there is a real demand.

Wise said there are no current plans to expand the Riverview Cafe hours. But he stressed that students could certainly get his attention on the subject if they were to let him know they wanted expanded cafeteria hours.

“If some really cool person decided to be an activist and go and collect signatures from 500 students,” Wise said, “and everybody said they really want it to be open until two, I’d consider it.”

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Hilltop dining expands hours