By MATTHEW ROBECK
While students going to the Institute of American Indian Arts generally find the food at Bon Appetit Café to be of good quality, various students, who did not want to be named, complain about a lack of variety in the food choice, abrasiveness from the staff, and the inflexibility of the hours.
However, Melody Lambelet, co-owner of Bon Appetit, expressed frustration over a lack of communication from the students. Students seem to be very unwilling to come and talk to staff about any issues that they have, she said.
“I think people are afraid to come talk to us,” Lambelet said, worrying that the students are intimidated by the staff.
Food in the Café
The food in the café is seen by most students as healthy and generally tasty. One student even went so far as to say that regularly eating café food was enough for him to feel dramatically better compared to the food he would normally eat at home.
However, one of the complaints leveled by some students is a lack of indigenous food, something that Lambelet is already working to address.
“We actually got a recipe book,” she said. “We will give it our best shot. It’s not something that we are familiar with. I know that in the past we have tried, and the students say that ”˜Oh, it’s not quite right.’ But we will do our best.”
Another complaint brought up was the overabundance of sugary desserts and sodas available to the students, which may tempt them into developing poor eating habits.
Lambelet responded by saying that if they were to take away some of the desserts and the sodas, then the students would be very angry with them, a sentiment affirmed by the responses of some of the other students who supported the selection of desserts.
Questions of Harassment
Several students have brought up complaints about the abrasiveness of the staff, such as arguing and yelling. One student reported even being banned from the café years ago when he got into an argument with the staff.
These same students do say that things have changed for the better with many new staff members being rotated over the past year, but some issues with the staff remain.
Lambelet was again a little frustrated at the fact that no one came to talk to her about this. A student cannot be banned from the café for such reasons, she said. A student would not even be banned if they were caught trying to steal food.
The only reason a student would be banned would be for extremely serious reasons, such as having alcohol in the café, she said.
The Hours of the Café
When asked about the narrow length of time the café is open, Lambelet said that the hours were negotiated with IAIA, itself.
“IAIA pays for everything, and we try to limit their costs,” Lambelet said. “Being a small student body, there aren’t a lot of students who eat here, so that’s why we limit the hours.”
They try to catch as many students as they can with their hours, but because of the expense, it is unlikely that the hours will be expanded, due to the strain that it would put on IAIA.
Hoping for Student Requests and Feedback
Lambelet said that students can ask the staff to make certain foods. For instance, if they are serving chicken one day, a student can walk up to the staff and request a hamburger. This will take the staff a little time, but it will be done.
Furthermore, Lambelet said that a student focus group will look at student opinions and complaints so that concerned students can come and talk to the staff. She assured the staff can keep the students’ input anonymous.
“We are approachable, even if students think we’re not,” Lambelet said.
(Featured photo by Matthew Robeck)