By KAYDEE JONES
Gull Life Editor
Generally speaking, people are not okay with change. Even so, it’s safe to say that a lot of Salisbury University students, including myself, were more than ready to experience the brand new Academic Commons, and all of the benefits that came with it when it opened this fall.
Then Hungry Minds happened.
Hungry Minds Express is a restaurant in GAC that is the equivalent replacement of Gull’s Nest, which used to be located in GUC. In the four weeks that Hungry Minds has been open, it has been nothing short of a disappointment.
My first experience at Hungry Minds was met with confusion. The Gull’s Nest days were gone where you peered at the menu and then gave your order to an employee, who gave it to the cooks so you could go on your merry way with your order slip to the cashier.
In the Hungry Minds world, students create their order on a touch screen. When they push “complete order,” two receipts print out and students are expected to give one receipt to a cook, and the other to a cashier.
This wouldn’t be so bad if you didn’t have to stand around awkwardly most of the time for a few minutes for a cook to be available to take your slip. Perhaps a simple order basket would help aid this confusing system.
Better yet, Hungry Minds could take a look at Wawa’s food ordering system. Customers order with a touch screen like Hungry Minds, but the orders go straight back to screens on the cooking side so that the cooks can see them right away instead of taking the time to wrangle up receipts.
The other bothersome thing about GAC’s eatery is the price tag. A plain cheesesteak with fries and drink combo at Hungry Minds comes to $12.72. A long cheesesteak from Gull’s Nest was $9.39, according to the menu still hanging up inside of the door.
I couldn’t locate how much a combo with fries and a drink was; however, fries alone cost $2.19, which still adds up to be more than a dollar less than the Hungry Minds price. This doesn’t even take into account the customization of food and adding of ingredients which Hungry Minds charges for. There was no evidence that Gull’s Nest did the same when it was still open.
The difference may not be astronomical, but it adds up quickly for college students.
The space itself is also an issue. The ordering area cannot support the capacity of the students that are always in there. In addition, there is significantly less seating than there was for Gull’s Nest which can be problematic for students who want a place to eat their food other than on the floor.
I realize this isn’t something that has an easy fix. No one has the power to magically expand the place. But perhaps a better set up, which could probably be attained by simply moving the huge chip rack from the middle of the room and moving or adding two more drink machines into the hallway where the microwave sits, would make a huge difference in the ordering and waiting process.
Some positives of Hungry Minds are the variety of different options on the menu. Patrons can choose from a long list of food items and then customize their order (for extra money, of course) which is more satisfying for consumers than picking from a shorter list like Gull’s Nest had. And let’s be real, the food in general is way above Gull’s Nest’s quality, which makes it worth the rather long waits, which of course could be due to the popularity of the establishment.
Areas they should work on from a student perspective would be to add a section in their menu about the specials. They are advertised on the screens and signs but they aren’t easily accessible—a student told me they had to design the special on their own. Perhaps there is already a tab that escaped my gaze, but I didn’t come across it in my look through the menu.
A suggestion box would also be a simple change that would make a huge difference to students with complaints. If one exists, it doesn’t stick out, which defeats the purpose of a suggestion box.
I want to stress that I don’t blame the workers at Hungry Minds—it’s evident they work hard to get food out in a timely manner and, from what I’ve seen, they get orders right most of the time. I’ve seen vast improvements since I first visited the establishment during the opening week of school. For instance, no one knew what set of numbers to call out at first but now the cashiers write it on the top of your receipt to avoid confusion on the part of the customer.
I also realize it may not be fair to compare it so heavily to Gull’s Nest, but as a student that has been a part of this campus for almost five semesters, it’s hard not to.
Despite my complaints, I’ll probably still frequent Hungry Minds because of its convenient location in the library. There are areas where Hungry Minds can improve, but this is true for every restaurant. I look forward to seeing how the establishment grows and changes in the coming weeks.