The Subway at Dallas College Brookhaven Campus has been locked and caged with silver security shutters down since March 13, 2020. Dim lights, eerie vacancy and the absence of the smells of fresh food on campus has puzzled students, staff and faculty.
Subway continues to be closed through summer as Brookhaveans slowly return to campus, without any fresh food options on campus.
The college District Service Center plans to reopen all food options on campuses in the fall.
Dawn Bishop, senior business administrative assistant at Brookhaven, said due to the pandemic everything was unexpectedly closed without a known date of return. “We have had some people call and ask when we were going to have food back on campus,” Bishop said. “I wish I could tell them an exact day and time when it would be available, but I know that at some point we will have service again.”
As of June 1, Dallas College campuses have been open to the public, allowing students face-to-face classes and all staff to return to their offices. But the wait in the transitioning process to go back to business as usual has not been easy since the pandemic.
It has been especially challenging for Justin Cameron, who owns the Subway franchise at Brookhaven. “It’s been terrible,” Cameron said. “I mean, they’re still shut down. It’s definitely been tough. Tough on me, tough on my guys. [There’s] nothing we can do about it.”
The decision to reopen food services on campus has not been an easy resolution. Bishop said District Services has to make a decision that comprises all Dallas College campuses and centers. Several factors, such as the number of students attending face-to-face classes, need to be considered. “It’s not [Cameron] making the decision, it’s what the district decides,” Bishop said. “Of course, they are going to consider a timely matter.”
Brenda Avila, auxiliary business service manager, said a meeting is planned for July with all the campus representatives, her director, as well as Subway’s district operations manager.
In previous years, Subway opened part-time Monday through Thursday during the summer terms when there is traditionally less foot traffic on campus.
Avila said students are the main drivers of profit and revenue. When they purchase food at their campus, a percentage of that money goes to fund student clubs and student activities. If there are not enough students on campus, then there are not enough purchases.
Avila said trial runs are being held over the summer, but noticed not many students are on campus yet. “That’s why we are seeing how the numbers are rising for people wanting to go back to on-campus learning, so that will also drive our numbers as well as profit for the owners of Subway to see that, instead of just losing money from there,” Avila said.
Food spoilage is a factor considered since it would cost more to purchase food and have it go to waste than the revenue made from current sales. “Obviously we have to have a customer base before we can open, but I just need confirmation from somebody before I spend a bunch of money on product that will expire if it’s not used,” Cameron said.
BOOKSTORE & VENDING MACHINES
Bookstore assistant Akeylah Kennedy said students, staff and faculty have asked when the bookstore will stock food. “There hasn’t been a high demand for the snacks because the campus was closed,” Kennedy said. “If we aren’t getting a high demand and more products are coming in, they’ll just keep expiring. The manager doesn’t know when they’ll be able to restock.”
The vending machines across campus have also been affected.
Welcome Assistant Alene Love said: “X Building is like being on a deserted island when it comes to the availability of food and drink. There are vending machines on each floor which are almost always sparsely stocked.”
One out of every three vending machines on campus are currently being stocked, Love said. A machine on the third floor of X Building, as well as those in the TreeTop Cafe, were stocked June 23.
READY TO REOPEN
Staff and faculty are ready to have food services available again. Karen Maldonado, a student assistant who works at Brookhaven’s Welcome Desk, said she ate often at Subway when it was open. “I do think it would be nice to have it open again,” Maldonado said. “I haven’t seen students bring up Subway. I see more employees bringing up Subway than students.”
Avila said, “I know there are still some hiccups and lingering of COVID speculations, but I would like to have some normalcy for staff, faculty, as well as students to get everything back to normal.”
Cameron said he is prepared to meet Brookhaven’s needs when they decide to reopen their food services again. “It was a tough time for everybody involved and we are all looking forward to going back,” Cameron said. “If the students are there, we are going to be there. That’s the plan.”