Dining locations, hours limited amid campuswide closures

Nataleah Small

Editor’s note: This story is part of The Daily Texan’s coverage of how coronavirus concerns are affecting UT-Austin. Read the rest of our coverage here.

University Housing and Dining is reducing the number of open dining locations and limiting the number of dining hours from now through May 20, said Rene Rodriguez, the UHD director of dining. 

Rodriguez said the decision to limit the number of open dining locations on campus was made in response to the email from President Gregory Fenves that stated students will need to move out of the residence halls due to concerns about COVID-19. 

“Our anticipation is going to be very few people will be left on campus,” Rodriguez said. “What we’re trying also to do is minimize our staff exposure, too.” 

March 13-22, Jester 2nd Floor Dining has been the only dining center open on campus since Friday, according to the UHD website. Until Sunday, J2 Dining will be open from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. 

March 23-27, Jesta’ Pizza and Cypress Bend will be the only two dining locations open on campus. Jesta’ will be open from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Cypress Bend will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the website. 

March 28 and 29, Cypress Bend will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to the website. 

Rodriguez said the information listed online saying Kin’s Market is scheduled to open the weekend of March 28 is incorrect, and Cypress Bend will be the only dining location open that weekend. 

From March 30 through May 20, Cypress Bend will be the only dining location open on campus. It will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, according to the website. 

UHD chose to keep Cypress Bend open from March 23 through May 20 because it is set up like a convenience store and accommodates the preparation of hot food items and grab-and-go options, Rodriguez said. 

In response to the restrictions placed upon restaurants and bars in Travis County on Tuesday, Rodriguez said dining inside the centers will not be allowed. 

“You go to the counter, you order what you want, it will be put in a to-go container and you’ll take it out,” Rodriguez said. 

Perishable food items not used by dining centers will be donated to Angel House Soup Kitchen, a ministry of Austin Baptist Chapel, before their expiration dates, Rodriguez said. Frozen items will be kept in the large freezers or used to make meals for dining center staff members.  

Full-time employees who work in the dining centers will be kept on staff, Rodriguez said. Some part-time staff members who work 10 months per year will take their two months off now instead of later in the year, he said. 

“We are in the process of creating our plan for additional training for additional projects … a lot of additional cleaning, a lot of cross training,” Rodriguez said. 

Although UHD has established a plan for dining locations through the end of the semester, Rodriguez said it may change in response to national news or notifications from the University. 

“Everything is changing on a daily basis,” Rodriguez said. “Nothing is set in stone.”