Lunch and dinner orders can be placed as much as six days in advance, and pickup times can be designated for as soon as 30 minutes from when the order is placed. Pickup is at a special window in the Hillside Café that avoids waiting at the order counter. The service was piloted with a few students last fall and expanded to some of the heaviest Hillside users in February. Full rollout to the entire campus took place earlier this month.
The orders that are coming in currently tend to be split between those who want pickup as soon as possible, and those ordering for a future time, said Megan O’Neill, associate director of restaurant operations for BC Dining.
Hillside’s menu proved ideal for making it the initial site to adopt remote ordering. The café, located on the college’s lower campus where about half the student population lives, offers a selection of soups, hot and cold sandwiches and grab-and-go salads that are simple to assemble and hold for pickup. It also includes a branded Starbucks coffee station.
Online orders pretty mimic in-person preferences, O’Neill says. “Typically, we’ll see [orders for] a sandwich and a specialty drink. We set up an area in the back anticipating a crowd. We have a sandwich station back there with an expediter who [makes sure they have all] the items they need to go make the sandwich orders.”
The GETTM mobile app connects to the college’s enrollment system, so when students log in to set up their accounts they use their college username and password, which connects it to their meal plan. They can also add a credit card and use whichever payment option they wish when they place an order. The app retains favorite order info, so it doesn’t have to be constantly re-entered, as well as preferences such as fresh fruit instead of chips with a sandwich or extra cream with a coffee drink.
O’Neill thinks the preorder system will be quite popular once students realize the option is available. “It’s nice. They can skip the line, they can skip the register and they just go to the pickup window, show their phone or their receipt and it’s all ready for them. They can grab it and walk out the door. We’re looking forward to it getting crazy busy and saving student, faculty and staff time from standing in line.”
1. Mike Buzalka, “Boston College Experiments with Preorders at Retail Venue,” Food Management, March 29, 2017. Accessed April 11, 2017, http://www.food-management.com/colleges-universities/boston-college-experiments-preorders-retail-venue