July 13, 2024

As 2020 progressed into its ninth month, restrictions guarding the population against COVID-19 began to relax in the Inland Empire. Riverside County was  given the option to begin engaging in reopening procedures.

These procedures were put into place all across the county. Businesses began to reopen their doors, restaurants started to seat customers inside again, and churches welcomed back their congregations.

The wave of re-openings hit the CBU campus on the week of Sept. 22. Anticipating these re-openings, many campus officials began to make the necessary changes in their departments in advance so they would be able to accommodate larger portions of the student population. 

A prime example of this was the reintroduction of indoor dining in all of the on-campus eateries. The county’s new dining legislation, which allowed for either 25% capacity or 100 people (whichever came first), gave campus restaurants the ability to once again open their tables for students to gather.

Lori Morgan, food and beverage manager for the Alumni Dining Commons, said she and her staff were prepared to reopen indoor dining as soon as the county allowed them to do so.

“We received word that we could reopen about two weeks ago today and we already knew that it was coming down the pipe,” Morgan said. “As far as planning goes, we were about two weeks ahead of the game, which is something that we always try to shoot for.”

Prior to the county’s order, the ADC exclusively offered outdoor seating and dining, with the inside of the cafeteria reserved strictly for food preparation and serving. 

Now that indoor dining is permissible by county law again, the ADC staff have made accommodations to seat the maximum number of students that they can legally hold.

“The inside of the ADC now contains 100 chairs exactly to coincide with the county’s guidelines of 25% or 100 people,” Morgan said. “Everything inside the cafeteria is measured to be exactly six feet apart. We will be ready for the next updates – we try to be ahead of the game.”

Another popular eatery that has reopened indoor seating to students is Wanda’s Cafe.

Since Wanda’s is not designed to hold anywhere near the number of students as the ADC, the return of indoor dining at Wanda’s is much more limited, with only the booths and a handful of chairs available for seating. However, like the ADC, Wanda’s is poised to keep steadily reopening as county restrictions relax.

“Just take it day to day, playing it by ear,” said Cori Gomez, floor manager for Wanda’s, in regard to the best thing she and her staff can do when waiting for county orders.

Paul Pepper, junior graphic design major, said he is relieved about the reopening of campus eateries.

“This is going to be good for a lot of people,” Pepper said. “I believe that many people on campus will benefit from reopened dining spaces, mainly for the purposes of studying and socializing. While we may not see a true spike in community over this, I’m glad to see this as a first step to a greater reopening.”

Dining on campus is a significant part of the CBU experience. Many of the changes brought on by COVID-19 have threatened to compromise the core of the campus community itself. However, the long-awaited return of indoor dining is now here. 

With a slow return of indoor dining, students are regaining the opportunity to sit inside with their peers, relax at a table and begin the restoration of their much-needed community.

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