Rutgers Dining Services ends takeout lunch at Brower, Neilson

Joseph Charette, executive director of Dining Services, said the different food options on the College Avenue campus combined with the food trucks contributed to the decline in students eating lunch at Brower.
Photo by Photo by Curstine Guevarra | The Daily TargumJoseph Charette, executive director of Dining Services, said the different food options on the College Avenue campus combined with the food trucks contributed to the decline in students eating lunch at Brower.

Rutgers University Dining Services permanently eliminated lunch takeout at both Neilson and Brower Dining Halls beginning this semester.

Dining Services first eliminated lunch takeout last year at Neilson, which serves the Cook and Douglass campuses, said Joseph Charette, executive director of Dining Services. Dining Services brought back the lunch takeout option in the Fall 2019 semester as a trial to determine if the demand for lunch takeout on Cook and Douglass was high enough to keep it in operation. 

Dining Services concluded that only an average of 44 swipes were utilized at Neilson for lunch takeout per day. Charette and Dave Donlon, general manager of Neilson Dining Hall, decided that Neilson takeout was no longer a viable dining option. 

Takeout at Brower Dining Hall on the College Avenue campus also had low numbers, averaging approximately less than 100 swipes during lunch, Charette said. Livingston and Busch Dining Halls had approximately 450 swipes each day at lunch.

Research conducted by Dining Services showed that students were utilizing Harvest Café, Cook Café and Douglass Café as alternatives to Neilson takeout. On the College Avenue campus, students were getting lunch takeout at Brower Dining Hall less than in previous years due to new lunch options, Charette said.

“All hours of operation are predicated on when students utilize the service being offered,” Charette said. “With the opening of Cafe West and the combination of the three food trucks (Three Chilies, Knight Wagon and Starbucks), we basically put Brower lunch takeout out of business.”

Charette said the decision to close Neilson and Brower takeout is permanent at this point, though Busch and Livingston takeout remain open during lunch hours. A new juice and smoothie bar called the Harvest Juice Bar has opened in the Busch Student Center as an additional lunch option. 

Some students took issue with the fact that Neilson and Brower Dining Halls closed their lunch takeout due to how convenient it is to stop in and grab food at the dining hall takeout station in between classes. 

“The fact that there is Harvest and Cook Café (approximately) a 5-minute walk from each other is helpful, but both are of them are susceptible to getting very crowded, which can be a problem in between classes and other activities,” said Gil Wyman, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior. “The fact that Brower no longer has takeout is a problem because there’s nowhere else to get a real meal on College Ave for kids who are solely reliant on swipes.” 

Eshan Kaul, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences alumnus, said Rutgers is taking away options for dining in order to save money, but does not pay attention to the inconvenience factor for the student body. 

“You can’t do these moves as if you’re losing money and that’s why they’re severely inconveniencing us, yet at the same time be getting the biggest class, building new buildings,” Kaul said. 

Rutgers Dining Services has no further plans to change operations or dining options this semester, with the hope that existing options will continue serving and benefiting the student body. 

“We believe students will enjoy the three brand new operations offered much more than Neilson and Brower lunch takeout.  Now that all three are opened for business, they are all being enjoyed by more students on a daily basis than Brower and Neilson ever were,” Charette said.