Freshman Gabi Alvarado enjoys a plate of buttered noodles and a Caesar salad from Noodles & Company.

Multi-restaurant lunch program popular with students

Adam Ketchum
Freshman Gabi Alvarado enjoys a plate of buttered noodles and a Caesar salad from Noodles & Company.

After changing the lunch program four times over the past six years, the school has finally established a popular program, nicknamed the Cavalier Café.

Now, instead of an outside group organizing the lunches, the Café distributes meals from Boudin, Noodles  & Company, Noah’s Bagels, Chili’s and Pizza Guys in the MP Room during lunch.

Since the program was launched at the beginning of the year, ordering lunch has become increasingly popular among students, according to Bill Petchauer, chief financial officer.

In May, there were 208 orders submitted to the Café. Of the 208, there were 92 lower schoolers, 78 middle schoolers, 34 high schoolers and four employees, according to Petchauer.

In comparison,  the former food program, GoodFellas, dipped as low as about 50 people in March of 2015, Petchauer said. 

“Last year (with GoodFellas), there wasn’t nearly enough food,” junior Kevin Huang said.

“Even when I took (middle schooler) Joe White’s lunch because he was absent, there still wasn’t enough food!”

Huang, who orders from the Café every day, said that the food is far superior this year. 

“It’s nice food because it’s from actual restaurants, and there are a lot of different options to choose from,” he said.

Junior Jesus Galindo agreed.

“So far, I don’t have any complaints. I would definitely give it a 10 out of 10,” Galindo said. “I especially like (Noodles & Company’s) spaghetti and meatballs with the Caesar salad.”

The two-and-a-half year partnership with GoodFellas was terminated last spring by Petchauer and the management team.

“It just wasn’t successful,” Petchauer said.

According to Petchauer, the change was also triggered by an Octagon article (“Students say no to GoodFellas: only 5 percent of high schoolers ever order lunch,” Feb. 17, 2015) that concluded that students weren’t satisfied with GoodFellas’ portions and quality.

“Even though it’s more difficult (to maintain), (the Cavalier Café is) worth it because it’s more successful and we’re breaking even (moneywise),” Petchauer said. 

Petchauer submits the orders, which are ordered by the students a month in advance, to each restaurant, each company delivers the lunches to school on a different day of the week, and students receive the same entree on the same weekday for a month. 

An Octagon poll distributed to 103 high-school students on March 22 showed that of the 26 people who ordered lunch in March, Tuesdays (Boudin) were the most popular day of the week with 21 orders.

Senior Emma Brown used to order the Turkey and Havarti sandwich from Boudin.

“It’s one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had,” Brown said.  “It’s also really filling.”

(Brown stopped ordering from the program in May only because seniors ended school on May 11.)

Even though the lunch program is more popular than its predecessors, the March poll reveals that some tweaking is necessary. 

For instance, six high-school students who ordered lunch in March said they had a problem with how Noodles & Company and Pizza Guys distribute their food.

While Boudin, Noah’s Bagels and Chili’s label each lunch with students’ names and grades, Noodles & Company and Pizza Guys serve their food buffet style.

Since the middle-school students get out for lunch 10 minutes earlier than the high-school students, if they eat their lunches and get back in line before the high schoolers reach the MP Room, they are able to get free seconds.

“I order spaghetti from Noodles & Company, but because (the middle schoolers) eat so quickly, there’s never any left by the time I get to the MP Room,” senior Sydney Michel said.

“But since it’s buffet style, I always just get the mac and cheese.” 

Even though Petchauer hasn’t heard complaints about the program, he said that students can give their suggestions to either him or Jennifer Adams, previous head of the lunch program and current distributor of the lunches.

He also said that because all of the restaurants have been popular, he doesn’t anticipate any changes to the menu next year.

—Madison Judd

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