From the Sizzler moving to new food offerings, returning Keene State students may have noticed some updates to on-campus dining this semester.
The first major change to dining came in the form of a new location for a Keene State Dining staple: the Sizzler. A Sizzler is a gyro-style sandwich that features a piece of pita bread and a selection of toppings and sauces that students can choose from to include in their meal. In years past, the Sizzler was housed on the second floor of the L.P. Young Student Center in the Night Owl Café. This year however, the Sizzler moved to a new location: Hoot-n-Scoot.
An Aug. 8 Instagram post by Keene State Dining revealed that the grand opening for the new location would be on Aug. 28 at 11 A.M.
KSC Dining Director of Operations Bonnie Blanchard said in an interview that the decision to move the Sizzler was made with convenience in mind. “Every day, Josh would prepare all the food [at the Dining Commons], he’d pull everything that he needed, load it up on a cart, and have to transport it across from the Dining Commons over to the Student Center… it was really taking probably two hours of time out of his day,” Blanchard said.
Blanchard noted that the new Sizzler location previously acted as a faculty dining room, but received little use in recent years. “It hadn’t been a faculty dining room in probably seven to eight years, so with minimal changes we could make that room something special,” she explained.
Another benefit of the move was expanded hours for The Market at Hoot-n-Scoot. “Because of the shared resource of the cashier we could open the Hoot-n-Scoot marketplace at 11 o’clock in the morning… as opposed to opening it at five o’clock at night like we were last year,” Blanchard noted.
Another dining change on campus was the discontinuation of The Paper Lantern. Previously housed in conjunction with Lloyd’s Marketplace in the Student Center, The Paper Lantern offered Asian food served on hotplates to students. Blanchard explained that the offerings were moved to the Hoot-n-Scoot Marketplace, in partnership with Ace Sushi. “What that allows us to do with the area that was formerly Paper Lantern, is that it allows us to hot-hold orders from Boost, so when people place Boost orders, instead of just being stuck on a counter somewhere, we’re able to put them in a hot-holding unit for pickup,” she explained.
One challenge that students have faced as the academic year has gone underway has been the lack of access to Boost, a mobile ordering application that KSC Dining uses to allow students to place orders on their phones. “What we are finding at this moment is that we are not able to provide the quality of guest service that we want to with [in-person and mobile ordering] open… the staffing isn’t as such that we can make that happen, to have someone who is both taking orders in-person and receiving Boost orders,” Blanchard said. “We anticipate that within the next week to week and a half that we’ll have Boost up-and-running again,” she said.
Blanchard explained that the low unemployment rate in N.H. poses difficulties, with fewer residents looking for work, but that company recruiters have been working to address staffing challenges. According to a Sept. 12 release from New Hampshire Employment Security, the preliminary seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for August was 1.8 percent, placing it among the lowest in the country.
“Right now we have a number of people in the background check pipeline. We encourage student-workers to apply before they come back to work because that way you’re all set and ready to go,” Blanchard said. “The most people in the pipeline [now] are baristas [for the on-campus Starbucks],” she explained. Blanchard said that incentives for student-workers include flexibility with student’s schedules, as well as the ability to eat meals free of cost during a shift. Additionally, Blanchard said that student-workers receive an annual raise of 50 cents following each year of employment.
According to Compass Group’s website’s Careers section, the parent company of Chartwells Dining, there are 17 job listings for Keene State Dining, including both full-time and part-time positions available – from cashiers to chefs to baristas. “We are always looking for more people,” Blanchard said.
Nathan Hope can be contacted at