The Landing – SOU’s convenience store connected to The Hawk Dining Commons – increased its spring term selection of grocery items and hot take-out meals in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and limited operations at The Hawk.
“These changes provide students the option for hot food when The Hawk is closed (and) the availability of grocery items supports their ability to prepare their own meal in their rooms/homes,” said Josh Lanier, the general manager at Aladdin – the subsidiary of Elior North America catering company that serves SOU.
The Hawk is currently closed for the summer and only limited selections of grocery items and hot takeout food to order are available at The Landing. But the spring term shift of services will serve as a model for fall term, when an emphasis will again be placed on to-go food.
The cooked-to-order offerings for spring term at The Landing included breakfast burritos, personal pizzas, salads, chicken strips, french fries, corn dogs, mozzarella sticks and jalapeño poppers.
“The Landing (also) increased their selections of grocery items such as meat, veggies, baking supplies, etc., for the students who prefer to cook on their own,” Lanier said.
The new additions came as The Hawk faced limitations due to COVID-19 precautions and SOU’s shift to remote operations for spring term. Only two of the eight restaurants housed in The Hawk – Red Plate and Vege’ – were open every day, and only for specified times. All service at The Hawk went to take-out only, with self-service and buffet options eliminated due to virus safeguards.
The Landing’s regular hours – open 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday, during July – and its relatively flexible food schedule are popular among students, who have been generally understanding about the safety reasons for SOU’s dining restrictions.
“Our students and customers have been so supportive of what we are doing, and they appreciate the strong steps we are taking to keep them and our employees safe,” Lanier said.
Some of those steps include frequent sanitization of all surfaces, required use of face masks at The Hawk and newly installed sneeze guards. Lanier said staff at both The Hawk and The Landing are trained and monitored to ensure they are observing all safety protocols.
“Options are more limited, but we still strive to have a good variety of delicious selections for our guests,” he said.
The reduced food selections still accommodate those with food allergies or dietary restrictions.
It remains uncertain how long the dining changes at SOU will remain in place.
“Much of what we do moving forward will be determined/impacted by the future course of the virus and subsequent guidelines and guidance recommended by the CDC and other health authorities,” Lanier said.
Elior North America is itself a subsection of the Elior Group, which has grown into one of the world’s leading operators in contract catering, concession catering, and support services since being founded in 1991. It operates in 15 countries, has 132,000 employees, serves 6 million people on a daily basis, and has 25,600 restaurants and points of sale.
Story by Blair Selph, SOU Marketing and Communications student writer