As students returned for the new year, many were surprised to find the Preserve’s amended hours and eventual closing for the semester. Although the facility plans to re-open Jan. 14, staple snacks such as Josh and John’s ice cream and the weekly mac and cheese bar are deeply missed. Various Bon Appètit employees and Colorado College students speak to the logistics of this closure and its effect on their favorite on-campus eats.
Grace Schottler, a Bon Appètit employee, provided insight on employee impact and response. “I was recently hired on to help supervise the Preserve. I worked over there a week, two weeks, something like that, and it was really, really quiet,” she said.
For returning students, this change came as a shock. The Preserve is well-known for its long lines and popular expos. These rotating made-to-order meals were a hit during lunch and dinner. Meals included staples such as a pasta and mac and cheese bar, pad thai, and curry.
The Picnic Box, Bon Appetit’s on-campus food truck, was used as a substitute to the Preserve expo, serving some of the similar hot meals for lunch and dinner. The Preserve market also remained open, providing packaged snacks and drinks. Unfortunately, both were closed shortly after the fall semester began due to limited attendance.
Bon Appètit employee Tyler Dexter explained this closure: “While [the Picnic Box] could not create all the options, at least we had a destination that students could enjoy the food and, particularly in the fall, the view and scenery,” Dexter said. “Unfortunately, the Picnic Box, with its limited offerings, was not overly enjoyed or participated in by students. And so, we had to make a decision, that for the handful of students that were using it, they could enjoy meals elsewhere on campus.”
Schottler offered a similar explanation: “They made the decision to just focus all of the efforts on renovating. It was just a lot to juggle, keeping it staffed, keeping the lights on, keeping food coming out of the Picnic Box. During the renovations, the numbers didn’t really work out.” The numbers were seriously not “working out.” Both attendance and profits were low. find some healthier meal options for dinner time!” Weiss said.
According to Dexter, the closure was communicated to students through posted hours of operation. As such, many returning students found out about the closure only upon their arrival to campus. Tess Rudd, junior and Preserve pizza lover, talked about her disappointment: “I found out about it when I got to school this year. I was pretty bummed since I was looking forward to it being so close.”
In terms of the renovations themselves, communication is varied. Schottler explained her understanding of the problem: “It’s a permitting issue. They have to put in new hood vents, which means they have to punch through the outside wall. Anything they do to the outside of the building, you have to get permits from El Paso County, so that’s really where the problem is.” According to Schottler, El Paso County is, unfortunately, notoriously difficult with issuing permits.
Schottler, and the other Preserve employees, will be heading back to the West side of campus next semester. All employees kept their positions despite the changes to the Bon Appètit restaurants. “The really great thing about working for this company is that we all work under one of the head chefs,” Schottler said. “So, they feel really responsible for us. Chef Matt feels really responsible for us. He really went to bat for us to ensure everyone maintained full time hours, and positions doing things they were really good at and felt comfortable at.” She currently works at Colorado Coffee during the transitional period.
Until then, Bon Appètit remains optimistic. “I’m hopeful that the Preserve is going to be way better after all of this. It’s not going to be as hot in there; it’s not going to be as crowded in there. We’ll be able to push out more hot food faster,” Schottler said.
As long as there is food, students will keep coming.