Bon Appetit Staff Frustrated by Lack of Communication from Students


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.”

Melody Lambelet at the café. (Photo by Matthew Robeck)

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)


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