by, Lauren Raziano, Social Media Editor
With the reopening of indoor dining across New York City on Friday, Feb. 12, Locke’s Loft is beginning to plan their reopening within the upcoming weeks to allow Manhattan College students a place to dine-in on campus.
“The dining services staff is excited to see our students again and provide them with the fuel to get them through their day,” dining services said.
On Feb. 8 Governor Cuomo announced that indoor dining could reopen in New York City at 25 percent capacity beginning Feb. 12. The reopening of indoor dining was previously scheduled for Valentine’s Day, but restaurants requested an earlier reopening date to allow staff to prepare and return profit.
At Manhattan College, Locke’s Loft is expected to re-open indoor dining at 25% capacity on Monday, Feb. 22. The Manhattan College administration and dining services team chose to delay indoor dining as a preventive measure for the safety of students and staff.
“The dining services team is working in conjunction with the administration at Manhattan College. Therefore, this date was determined as an extra precaution to ensure the safety of the Manhattan College community as a whole,” dining services said.
The dining hall will be following all of the COVID-19 guidelines directed by the state, such as sanitation, capacity and distancing guidelines.
“We will implement the seating capacity by assigning designated seating areas that adhere to social distancing guidelines implemented by state and local governments,” dining services said.
Ken Waldhof, director of business services, works closely with the college’s dining services team and is looking forward to students dining indoors and is aware of the expectations of COVID-19 restrictions.
“Students and all diners should be respectful of the COVID mandates of social distancing, hand washing and wearing a mask,” Waldorf said.
An issue with indoor dining assignments arose last semester as some students were moving chairs and tables closer in the dining area to sit near their friends. The dining hall staff does not condone this behavior and is encouraging students to not move the furniture and follow all COVID-19 protocols.
“Designated seating areas and capacities should not be adjusted by pulling additional chairs to a table,” Waldorf said. “We need to continue to respect all the posted and communicated protocols which will contribute to us getting through the pandemic impact sooner rather than later.”
On campus, students are also excited that Locke’s Loft will be reopening indoor dining, as it increases the hope that college campuses are returning to a somewhat normal state.
“It is pretty exciting that Locke’s is opening up,” Matthew Giantelli, freshman chemical engineering major, said. “It shows that the school is going to slowly start integrating normal school activities back into the school environment.”
The college decided to remove the outdoor dining tents located in front of Draddy Gymnasium for the spring semester. The tents were popular among students during the fall semester so they would not have to dine in their rooms alone, but it looks like they may not make a return in the spring semester.
When asked about if the tents will return with summer weather, Waldhof said,“That has yet to be decided. If indoor dining continues to open with greater capacities, we may not need the tents.”
To accommodate take-out dining, students have been given single-use paper bags to transport their meals due to COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, there have been piles of excess waste in dorm hall trash rooms.
As a fair trade certified college, Manhattan College has a responsibility to reduce waste and protect the environment. This highlights the issue and encourages the dining hall to encourage students to bring in their own reusable bags, but the COVID-19 single-use options limit their ability to offer this option to students.
“We are actively looking into more sustainable practices on reusable materials that follow COVID-19 safety protocols,” dining services said.
Despite the challenges of COVID-19 guidelines, the dining team is ready to see students’ faces as they enjoy hot and healthy meals.
“We encourage our customers to continue to be mindful of others, wear a mask, adhere to social distancing guidelines, and bring your appetite,” dining services said.