Alexys Bajet (right), After School Enrichment counselor, ladles out pasta from Noodles and Company to freshman Jack Christian. Noodles and Company is one of several restaurants that are now a part of the school's new lunch program.

Cavalier Cafe, featuring several local restaurants. takes over for Goodfellas; students praise swap in lunch programs

The new lunch program, nicknamed the Cavalier Café, opened and served meals from Noodles & Company, on Sept. 1. The Cavalier Café will also distribute meals from Boudin, Noah’s, Chili’s and Pizza Guys in the MP room at lunch for the rest of the year.

“They definitely improved (the lunch program),” said sophomore Brenda Alegria, who orders every day. “The program is extremely good and yummy. I don’t regret ordering from it!”

Alegria said that she enjoys the mac and cheese from Noodles & Company and the pepperoni and Hawaiian pizzas from Pizza Guys.

Each vendor provides lunches on a different weekday (students receive the same entree on the same weekday for a month). Students order their lunches a week before the beginning of the month. High- and middle- school students are charged $7 per entree, and lower-school students are charged $6.50.

Alegria said that she thinks the price is fair.

It’s good food from different restaurants,” she said.

Senior Julia Owaidat, who is also ordering every day, said she agrees.

“It is better to pay more for good food than to pay less for food that no one likes,” Owaidat said.  

 Alexys Bajet, After School Enrichment counselor, distributes the lunches.

“I’m really liking (the program),” Bajet said. “I hadn’t really gotten to know people in the high school and middle school, because I’m mostly involved with the lower school. I’ve been having really interesting conversations.”

On the most popular days, when Noodles & Company and Pizza Guys provide lunches, Jennifer Adams, who was the previous head of the lunch program, helps Bajet.

All vendors, except for Noodles & Company, deliver the food. Bajet escorts workers from the restaurant to the kitchen in the MP room at around 11 a.m. and groups the meals by grades on a table.

Noodles & Company’s meals are served buffet style, so Bajet posts a list of the orders to remind students of what they ordered.

In addition to distributing meals, Bajet said that she and Bill Petchauer, chief financial officer, submit orders, and she confirms the orders with the restaurants.

Bajet said that she ordered around 35 pizzas on the first Pizza Guys Friday on Sept. 4 because 102 people order on Friday (high schoolers can get up to four slices, middles schoolers can get three and lower schoolers can get two), but there were several extra pizzas. She said that next time she will probably order fewer pizzas.

Bajet said that she expects that some of the unpopular meals, like the Alfredo chicken from Noodles & Company, will be taken off the menu. However, Bajet said that if one meal is removed, it will always be replaced by another.

Last spring, Petchauer and the management team decided to end the school’s two-and-a-half year long partnership with Goodfellas, the lunch program. This decision was made as a result of an Octagon article (“Students say no to GoodFellas: only 5 percent of high schoolers ever order lunch,” Feb. 17), Petchauer said.

By Aug. 26, 122 people had sent in orders for September; 21 were from high schoolers.

Owaidat heard about the new lunch program on Aug. 7 when junior Adam Dean tweeted a screenshot of the email that was sent to parents describing the program.

“Several of my friends and I were excited about it,” Owaidat said. “I eat at a lot of those places regularly.”

Owaidat said that she decided to try the program because she has tried most of the meals before and knows what to expect.

Both Alegria and Owaidat said that they think they might get tired of having the same food every week. However, Owaidat said that she could always trade lunches with her brother, sixth grader Malek.

Alegria doesn’t have this option and recommends that the program be changed so students can order for every two weeks instead of the entire month.

Petchauer explained that the reason he had parents order a month in advance is because it is cost effective.

“If (parents ordered) more often, it would become more difficult to manage and would require additional staffing,” Petchauer said.

“We did not want to have a higher cost for the lunch program.  In addition, it would be more difficult for the restaurants to adjust to more frequent order changes.”

Besides ordering more often, Owaidat and Alegria also said the program should consider providing milk or juices. And Owaidiat, who is Muslim and cannot eat pork, also suggests offering more meatless choices.

Petchauer said that he has already received a request to offer a vegetarian meal every day and that it will be accommodated soon.

Alegria said that she will likely order again next month, while Owaidat said that she will wait until the end of the month to decide.

According to Bajet, the vendors told her that SCDS is one of the first schools in the area to offer this kind of program.

—By Sonja Hansen

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