North Texas Daily

Dining Services experiences a mix of closures, reopenings and new releases in retail locations

Dining Services experiences a mix of closures, reopenings and new releases in retail locations

Dining Services experiences a mix of closures, reopenings and new releases in retail locations
September 23
11:10 2021

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect a recent update regarding the Starbucks coffee stand’s reopening date, which was given after the print issue was released.

Khush Roti, Taco Bueno and the Starbucks located between the College of Music and Hurley Administration buildings did not open back up with the rest of the university in August.

Only the Starbucks coffee stand currently has a plan to return to campus, with a reopening date tentatively set for the end of October, said Dining Services Executive Director Peter Balabuch.

“I think a lot of times in our business people fall prey to just rushing to get open [and being] understaffed with not enough supplies,” Balabuch said. “I think at that point, while there may be a convenience that you’re trying to provide, you’re providing a disservice rather than a service.”

Khush Roti, which was one of the cheapest places to eat on campus, is currently listed as closed on the university Dining Services website and there are no immediate plans to reopen the stand. Taco Bueno will also not be coming back to the university, although it is unlikely anything will take its place on the Union’s second level soon.

“We’re looking at long term, what are our better options [for a replacement], and I don’t think we’re going to satisfy that this semester,” Balabuch said.

Staffing issues are one of the main reasons not every retail dining location has opened back up on campus, reflecting a nationwide labor shortage. The university currently has 170 full-time dining service employees.

“Much like in the outside world of hospitality, there’s a number of factors that are complicating what we would see as pre-pandemic service,” Balabuch said. “There’s issues regarding the onboarding [sic] of staffing and then, of course, there are supply chain issues as well that are adding insult to injury.”

Due to said supply chain issues, the university is never guaranteed to have enough containers for food sold in the Corner Store in the Union. However, compared to schools of similar size, Balabuch said the university is doing “very well” in terms of dining options available to students.

“They may have one or two resident dining halls that [other universities] function for a campus this size, but at UNT we have six,” Balabuch said. “We got used to this pre-pandemic convenience of everywhere on campus there’s a food service within a few steps and we’re working our way back up there, but we’re trying to fit all of our resources in the place where we get the most bang for the campus.”

Some university students have been understanding of the restaurant closures.

“I find the closing of Khush Roti and Taco Bueno to be justifiable given that there’s staffing issues in almost any food service [location] right now and such establishments would only have one peak time per day occurring during lunch,” graduate taxation student Avery Barthold said.

Barthold also agreed reopening Starbucks should be the university’s top priority out of the three restaurants.

“I’ve been known to skip going to Starbucks because there’s always such a long line, and I would assume the same for many other students in a rush,” Barthold said. “UNT is missing out on some serious profit by keeping the second location closed.”

However, a current student worker at the Starbucks inside the Union does not think the second location will decrease wait times.

“It doesn’t really change too much, it just kind of takes away the staff that we have here,” vocal performance sophomore Harli Daniel said.

No other dining services on campus are slated to be shut down, but some are being reviewed. This includes the cafes in the General Academic Building and the Business Leadership Building, which are both currently open.

“The past year has taught me don’t commit to anything, but if nothing changes from where we’re at today there shouldn’t be [any more closures],” Balabuch said. “We are evaluating the business need to reopen the Go! Station at Wooten Hall.”

New services are coming to campus as well, with a Clark Bakery market set to open on the north side of Eagle Landing.

Separate from the main campus, Discovery Park has been largely unaffected by the dining closures and has expanded its menu to include Indian food. Balabuch said he hopes the same menu will also be available on the main campus by next semester.

Featured Image: Signs reading “temporary closure” hang on the side of Khush Roti’s truck on Sept. 16, 2021. Photo by John Anderson

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John Anderson

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