I ended my walk at the 11th floor coffee service, there to meet with Elizabeth to give advice on a couple of Mac (sort of) issues. One was that Safari simply wouldn’t load news.google.com. Wut? It had no problem loading other things. I asked Dr. Google; other people had seen the same issue (of course) and the first hit said, “restart Safari”. Well, that’s easy; I told Safari to quit, restarted it, loaded the news, all was well. It’s easy being an expert when you have a search engine.
Nothing much else happened until 4pm, time for Rhonda’s open meeting. I was anticipating the news about reopening the dining room (which closed a bit more than a year ago). I’d heard a summary at the Executive Committee meeting yesterday but wanted to hear the whole deal and people’s questions.
The dining room will reopen on the 21st, as scheduled. Rhonda showed pictures of the installation of a whole line of new equipment, warming ovens, fryers, an 8-burner range, and so on, all shiny new metal.
Previously the dining room was opened only at meal times, and served cafeteria style. No more. Now it will be open at least 12 hours, probably 7:30-7:30, and serve restaurant style: you get a menu and servers take your order which is prepared fresh for you. This is a huge change, and not everybody was enthused.
There will be an always-available menu that you can order from any time. During designated meal hours, say 12-1:30 for lunch, there will also be a specific meal menu with whatever specials are on for that meal. You can order for take-out as well, or you can order by phone and have your choice of food brought to your room.
Some of the dubious questions related to the loss of the old casual air. In the new system, you’ll be met at the door and shown to a table. Prudence commented, “Part of the pleasure of the old dining room was walking from the line with your tray and looking around to see what table you wanted to sit at.” Well, that was a pleasure for an outgoing person like Prue; I can testify that for a shy newbie, that was no fun, and in the early weeks I often headed straight for the two-person tables on the margins to sit alone.
There were a lot of subtle social customs based on the old, college-residence-hall style dining. Not all of them will work in the new system. There was a lot of discussion about the old system of “open tables”, a couple of large tables that were designated for people who wanted to socialize, you couldn’t reserve them or hold chairs at them, and anybody could sit at them. Would the new system have that? It wasn’t clear if it would or could.
One reason for the change to an always-open system is that CH suffers by comparison to our competitors The Vi and The Sequoias. They have Bistros, small casual eating places always open. A Bistro is now the thing you gotta have if you want to rate as an IL facility. Well, we don’t have space for a Bistro, but at least you will be able to go to the dining room off mealtimes with a friend or visitor and order some kind of drink and snack.