Marketplace takes some getting used to

Story by Haley Zblewski, Currents Editor

Among the many changes that came along with moving to a new student center, UW-Eau Claire has switched from having a cafeteria on both upper and lower campus to only having one on upper campus.

Christian Wise, Director of Blugold Dining, said that with changes in the size of the Marketplace and Riverview Cafe, the cafeteria on upper campus, Blugold Dining has needed to hire more employees.

“It takes about 15 more workers to run the Marketplace than it used to,” Wise said. “The actual retail space we’re operating in is larger than the old Marketplace in the old Davies.”

Overall, Wise said Blugold Dining has retained all of the workers from the previous Davies Center and has hired an additional 15 or 16 full-time workers and 45 to 50 additional students.

The way food is presented and cooked in the Marketplace has changed, Wise said, which has impacted Blugold Dining’s budget, though not in a negative way.

“It’s a lot more costly because the style of dining now has been more exhibition cooking,” Wise said. “There are people standing out and making the Mongolian grill option, making the pizza from scratch, doing a pasta toss.”

With more exhibition cooking, some employees needed to learn new cooking skills, Wise said.

“All of the positions (in the Marketplace) are new so all of the positions need to be learned,“ he said. “A few are very similar, but many of the positions are new that have never been done.”

Blugold Dining hires 140 full time workers and about 280 students to make sure the students and employees of Eau Claire have meal options on campus, Wise said.

Jaimee Bowlsby has worked at Blugold Dining for 14 years and is one of the workers who moved from the Marketplace in the
former Davies Center to the current Marketplace. Bowlsby said the change hasn’t been very difficult.

“It’s been good,” she said. “This is a bigger place and I think more people come here now that there isn’t a cafeteria.”
Previously, Blugold Dining employees were allowed to have a meal from the former Terrace cafeteria. But now that the Terrace no longer exists, the workers get their meals through the block plan like students, Wise said.

“At this particular point they’re allowed block meals in the Marketplace and they’re allowed a meal at Susie’s Place,” he said.
Susie’s Simply-to-Go Food Stop allows students and employees to have the main entree from the Riverview Cafe, the cafeteria on upper campus, and choose from several side options as well.

Bowlsby said she thinks the change in meal choices for employees has been fine.

“There’s more options here,” she said. “I think the food is better and there’s more variety.”

Wise said Susie’s Simply-to-Go Food Stop allows students in Katherine Thomas and Putnam Halls and employees to have a hot meal option on lower campus and has eased the transition from having no cafeteria on lower campus.

“The loss of the cafeteria, on the face of it, doesn’t seem very impactful,” Wise said. “Because in conjunction with losing the cafeteria on lower campus, we also doubled the size of the cafeteria on upper campus.”

Wise said Blugold Dining has encountered about 25 percent more people at the Riverview Cafe than they did at the same time last year.