Tuesday, November 30, 2021

The Union’s ‘The Roost’ reopens, supplementing West Circle dining options

October 20, 2021
<p>Students flocked to the Union to see Zeke the Wonderdog at the UAB Zeke and Greet event on Wednesday, Sept. 29.</p>

Students flocked to the Union to see Zeke the Wonderdog at the UAB Zeke and Greet event on Wednesday, Sept. 29.

Photo by Chloe Trofatter | The State News

The popular MSU Union venue The Roost will reopen Wednesday, signaling the start of a recovery for dining options after months of severe staff shortages.

The venue is the first of the three Union food court offerings to open after a prolonged hiatus. The other two venues, Street Tacos and Unbelieva-bowl, will remain closed until Residential and Hospitality Services, or RHS, is able to effectively staff them.

The choice to open The Roost in particular was not due to its popularity. 

Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for Culinary Services Cheryl Berry said that the decision came down to two main factors: staffing ability and serving West Circle residents.

The campus-wide staffing shortage at MSU has hit culinary services especially hard. RHS started the fall semester with about 3,500 less student team members than previous years, with a majority of these deficiencies being concentrated in the dining halls and other on-campus food offerings.

The department has slowly accumulated employees since September, but it is still far from pre-pandemic levels. As such, RHS has to gauge how efficiently a particular dining location will use its limited labor pool.

According to Berry, The Roost takes about six staff at a time to properly function. Compared to a dining hall, which takes an average of 30 staff members to operate, the choice to open The Roost is the more efficient option.

The location of The Roost is also beneficial for RHS. The Union is situated in the West Circle area of campus, near Landon, Campbell, Mayo and Yakeley Halls. When Landon Hall’s dining facility was closed for dinner service in September, residents in the area started petitions due to the lack of dining options available to them.

Berry said that The Roost can now serve as an option for these affected students, specifically for dinner and late night meals.

“It’s more feasible for us to open up a smaller operation like that to service the West Circle neighborhood area rather than a complete dining hall,” Berry said. “At least we can offer that location, that neighborhood, an option for dinner service and late night dining.”

Aside from staffing and West Circle residents, Berry also cites being able to effectively source The Roost’s menu as a motivation for opening it. The global supply chain has struggled to recover since the early days of the pandemic, and RHS has struggled to consistently receive various foodstuffs.

Chicken tenders, The Roost’s prime offering, has been one of the few things they can rely on.

“Chicken tenders are something that we knew that we could continue to get without disruption in the supply chain,” Berry said.

In addition to its classic fried options, The Roost will now serve vegan chicken tenders and garden salad. These new items will serve as the vegetarian and vegan options in the food court— a dietary area that Unbelieva-bowl serviced previously.

“We knew that if we were going to open up a venue, we needed to have some accommodations on the menu,” Berry said.

The Roost will be open Monday through Friday, 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.. Students with a dining plan can use their MSU-issued ID to be served, and guest passes may be used at the venue.

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