By Cecilia Cress
On Oct. 29, Martha’s Kitchen changed its days of operation. It is now open Saturdays through Thursdays from 5 to 11 p.m., and is closed on Fridays.
Previously this semester, Martha’s Kitchen was closed on Sundays instead of Fridays, but according to an email sent out on Oct. 27 by Assistant Director of Dining Services Kayla Young, many students expressed disappointment in Sunday closures, so the day was changed.
“I ended up talking to students in the Dining Hall as they were coming through…eight out of 10 were saying they would much rather have Sunday open than Friday nights,” Director of Dining Services Prince Johnson said.
Another reason some students said they prefer Martha’s being open on Sunday is because of the shortened Dining Hall hours during the weekend.
“We do not want to be closed at all. We want to be open seven days a week, but we want the majority of students to be happy, and it sounds like swapping those days at least helped a little bit,” Young said. “[Students are] potentially going home on Friday, coming back on Sunday. The Dining Hall closes at 6 p.m. on Sunday, so now they have their late-night option Sunday night.”
According to Johnson, the original decision to close Martha’s on Sundays was made due to frequent callouts by employees after working all week, including possible overtime.
“We were getting most of our callouts on Sundays…[They] were working six or seven days straight, and Sunday was that last day,” Johnson said.
The decision to move the closure date to Fridays, according to Young, was because Martha’s staff expressed to her that Fridays and Saturdays are the slowest nights of the week, contrary to what some students believe.
“I find Martha’s being closed on Friday interesting because Friday is the day most people talk about going to Martha’s. It’s the day before the weekend, people stay up late, and now they can’t go to Martha’s. I feel like having it open on Friday makes more sense rather than having it open on Sunday,” senior Alisha White said.
“I think it’s because some of the students are going home, some of the students are going out on a Friday or Saturday night, so those are the slowest nights for us…Fridays and Saturdays are the lowest money-making days as well, the proof is there,” Young said.
According to Young and Johnson, another major reason for changing the closure to Fridays, and the reason Martha’s is not open seven days a week, has to do with the labor shortage that has been affecting Washington College and the rest of the country since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
“It was really tough,” Young said.
“We were paying people a lot of overtime…at some point the staff was getting tired of working overtime.”
“People like to do that every now and then, but they don’t want to have to do it every single day,” she said. “Just closing it for one night made sure that everybody has their two days off per week, and it still operates very functionally for those remaining six days per week.”
According to Young, the College and the services it can provide to students is still being affected by the labor shortage.
“I’ve been the hiring manager for many years now in this department, and this is like no other…In the past, we would have one or two open positions. It might take me a week or two to fill them, but I would always fill them. We never had open positions just sitting out there,” Young said.
According to Young and Johnson, the Dining Hall currently has 13 open positions that they have been attempting to fill throughout this semester. Many of these positions are available to be filled by students on the application for on-campus employment, JobX.
Photos by Grace Hazelhurst
Photos Caption: On Oct. 27, in a campus-wide email sent by Washington College Dining Services Assistant Director Kayla Young, Martha’s Kitchen will now be open Saturdays to Thursdays from 5 to 11 p.m. beginning Oct. 29. According to the email, until Martha’s is fully staffed, it will be closed on Fridays instead of Sundays, leaving many students surprised by the change.