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Dining services is making changes in the “Caf”

Staff Writer

Published: Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, September 11, 2012 12:09


STAR // Nina D'Ambrosio

Dining services employees grill outside on a nice day.

A college student’s world revolves around food. Whether it’s ordering in a pizza or getting brunch at the caf, food is constantly on the typical college student’s mind. Eating is no longer just subsidence, but a social fad.

That being the norm, today the cafeteria at Sonoma State is working to change its atmosphere and build a community for its students. By launching a new initiative, “For Students by Students,” employees and interns hope to recreate the cafeteria experience. It will no longer be a place solely centered on food, but will create an inclusive environment for all students.

Intern and senior Chris Jayden Romo has worked for dining services for three years. He began washing dishes, but his involvement really took off when he became more than just an employee.

“I used to do front of the house and was a manager on the floor,” Romo said. “I was leading peers, assisting when needed, and was kind of at the same level as some of the full time staff.”

Romo is currently the intern for Guest Services and Community Engagement and is the brand ambassador for dining services. He works directly with students, getting their feedback and making changes to the student experience.

“I ultimately would like to create a new brand for dining services,” Romo said. “The brand will take to heart “For Students by Students,” which will be the tag line in the new student center.”

Keeping true to this motto, the cafeteria (better known as the caf) will focus on creating more jobs for students, developing career tracks, and nurturing a new kind of environment for students.

“Internally, we’re going back to incorporating students, valuing students, forming a huge community, and strengthening [relations] with the employees we have,” Romo said.

Dining services is working to bring better products to students. “It’s all about the experience. That’s the largest change,” Romo said. “It’s not about them sitting down and eating; it’s a safe atmosphere.”

There are several major changes that have already been made to the caf this year including: new furniture, karaoke nights and music, all of which have changed the dynamics of the caf experience. In addition, there are two BBQ’s being held this semester: Sundae Sundays and Breakfast for Dinner.

“We are changing the monotony of what we do,” Romo said. “Students eat there every day, and in order to keep them, we need to change it up.”

A significant change has also been made in the functioning of the facility; the Zinfandel cafeteria became student-run this year.

“There is a team of leads that basically lead the floor,” Romo said. “They don’t only support the employees, but they take care of customer problems— all really important to lay our foundation of ‘For Students by Students.’”

Romo encourages feedback and enjoys getting to know students. There are feedback cards available at each table, and he welcomes input from all students.

With the new student center on the horizon, there are endless opportunities for the caf to expand and create a larger community.

“The foundation of this project is that I love my job,” Romo said. “Dining is more than just a job; it’s a community and a family.”

Beyond the burgers at the grill and pancakes for brunch, students are taking part in a new initiative. They are a part of an innovative, personal experience created for the students by the students.

Dining services would love to hear your feedback; send texts to 2487 or FSBS, or e-mail

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Tue Sep 25 2012 19:16
As a former employee of the dining hall I can only say that I found this article to be rather laughable. Your article seems to glorify these new changes and even more so the people who are running the caf. All I can say is that neither is what they seem. The article is entirely one sided and does not give any account of what it is like to work there. As a former employee of four years I can tell you what it is and has become like to work in the caf.
To begin with, we experimented with some of these new dinners last semester such as Breakfast for Dinner and what I can say is nobody cares about them. The students didn't care what it was and the employees hated working it. Special dinners have always seemed to cause more trouble than their worth. Also this is a news flash about Sundae Sundays-we already do that every day at the ice cream machine. In regards to the music, on at least one occasion on a night when there were no full time workers, loud rap music was played over the loudspeakers and it proved to be very offensive and vulgar, garnering many complaints.
Now we move to the subject of this "branch ambassador" for dining services, Chris Romo. I'm afraid your article is grossly misleading where he is concerned. In every working establishment there is an employee everyone else would love to kill and he is the one at the caf. He began his current position at the beginning of last year and all I can say is he has succeeded in making working there miserable. From day one he has abused his position, orderine around harder working, more experienced and longer employed employees who are much better than he ever was when he was a mere student worker. He has even walked over and been cruel to those who trained him and has been trying to keep the cooks, who are supposed to be higher than him, under his thumb. For example, one night when one didn't do what Chris wanted, Chris called the director at her home and the cook got in trouble. During closing shifts he has also been very lazy, standing around and offering no help to the employees while other, better student leads have. Chris on one occasion made a trainee cry and has continuously bullied new workers, even outside the workplace. I can not count how many times I've heard them complain. If you have any negative feedback about him, don't waste your time sending it in because the management will only ignore it, just as they most likely have done with any employee complaints about him.
The worst thing about Chris's position is that he only got where he did by sucking up enough to the director of dining services, which brings me to my next point. The director of dining services seems to care little about her employees or their well being. If you suck up to her enough, no matter what happens, she will not do anything about it. The perfect example is the case of the former chef who was fired last semester after thirty-seven charges of sexual harassment were filed against him. If Human Resources had not taken action he would still be working there because nothing would have been done had the director handled it.
Though the caf and dining services is a good place to earn pocket money, I must advise that students think very carefully about working there.

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