The Tinbergen Building has been completely closed since the turn of the year, including Etude, Vitam’s largest campus restaurant. Since then, the only other canteen on campus, The Company on the fourth floor of the Mandeville Building, has gotten very busy. “The queue is sometimes up to the lift. We are looking into opening the restaurant for an extra hour,” said Michel Flaton, general manager of Vitam on campus.

Employees transferred

Tinbergen restaurant Etude used to be open from 11am to 3pm and The Company is only open from 11am to 2pm. To reduce the crowds, Vitam has two cash registers in operation as default and the third cash register also opens at least three times a week. “Before Tinbergen closed, we often used one register in Mandeville, we now find that we have 200 to 300 more guests a day.”

Due to the closure, Etude’s employees on a permanent contract have been relocated to different Vitam locations on campus. Finding a place for all employees was not hard, says Flaton, because two regular Vitam employees had given advance notice that they were quitting anyway. “One colleague did not renew his contract and another colleague retired. The rest have all been transferred to other campus locations.”

Smaller kitchen

Because of the smaller kitchen at The Company, Vitam can offer not as much variety in meals as it did at Etude. “There is less space to put down meals,” Flaton notes. The variety does remain: there is always a meal with meat and a vegan meal.

Despite the smaller kitchen and the crowds, there is plenty to choose from in the restaurant. There is even food left over sometimes. “Food we don’t use today, we will reuse in a different way tomorrow. The vegetables that are in today’s meal go into the salad bar tomorrow. From bread that is left over we make croutons.”

Many of the lunches for catering used to be made in The Company’s kitchen. Now it is done in a new preparation kitchen in the Van der Goot building. There are also plans for a coffee corner in this building; as study areas will be created in the old exam hall.

Street food in Theil

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Theil hall sells street food such as a taco. Image credit: Thanh Nguyen

For the past few weeks, Vitam has been experimenting with a street food pop-up in the Theil building on Wednesdays. Despite the pop-up not being a success the first time, it is getting better and better. “After the first time, we took a good look at where things went wrong and what we can do better. Then we started walking through the Theil Hall with the hot dogs so students could taste it. By then we sold forty of them. Last week we did another tasting and by then we had sold seventy products and now we are around a hundred. It’s going, step by step, better and better.”

There are plenty of seating areas in the Theil building, only the spots are not suitable for eating whole meals. “The street food bar works just like in the United States, you get a taco in a napkin and go outside or sit somewhere for a while.” Vitam can provide hot food to students in the UB through the Streetfood Bar in Theil. “It is also nice for us, because otherwise we would already lose the students who want to eat hot and walk from the library towards Mandeville at the Food Plaza. Now Vitam is represented all over campus,” Flaton explains.

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