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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Despite rumors, Stein to remain open

Published: November 21, 2008
Section: Front Page

THE STEIN: Waiters serve patrons at the Stein. Despite rumors, the campus restaurant will not close its doors.<br /><br /><i>PHOTO BY Jodi Elkin</i>

THE STEIN: Waiters serve patrons at the Stein. Despite rumors, the campus restaurant will not close its doors.

PHOTO BY Jodi Elkin

Despite rumors, there are no plans to close the Stein this year, said Vice President of Campus Operations Mark Collins, whose department oversees Aramark. Approximately 20 student employees would lose their jobs if the Stein were to shut its doors.

Rumors that the campus restaurant would close as early as this weekend began circulating among Stein employees earlier in the week after Stein employees were summoned to an emergency meeting Monday.

According to one Stein employee, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of losing his job, “a lower manager of the Stein told student employees that [the emergency meeting] was specifically to fire everybody who works there, tell them the Stein is being shut down, and that the Stein could close as soon as next week.”

When the meeting was canceled, concerns among employees only increased.

Collins explained in an e-mail to The Hoot that the rumors concerning the Stein’s closing have “no validity.”

“The Stein is not closing this year,” he said.

Stein Restaurant Manager Michael Wiggins declined to comment on the situation.

The emergency meeting was then cancelled, the anonymous student said. He added that when he asked Food Service Director Sean Favreau if the Stein would be closed, Favreau could neither confirm nor deny the rumor. Favreau did tell him, however, that closing The Stien had been considered.

Neither Favreau nor Director of Dining Services Michael Newmark responded to requests for comment.

“Everything is up in the air,” Stein employee Liana Langdon-Embry ’11 said. “We haven’t received any information from managers.”

“They themselves don’t know,” she continued. Consequently, most of what she had heard about the possible closing came from other employees, she said.

“[Aramark officials] haven’t confirmed or denied rumors about the Stein,” Union Dining Services Committee Co-Chair Jenna Brofsky ’10 said.

Brofsky’s co-chair and Stein employee Jenna Rubin ’11 confirmed that the committee had not received a clear answer from Aramark management.

Rubin called the lack of communication “frustrating.”

“One thing that the Dining Services Committee prides itself on is its relationship with the dining administration,” she said. “I’m finding it hard to have faith in the committee’s relationship with Aramark right now,” Rubin commented.

Even so, “I do have confidence that we’ll get information at some point.”

While the committee had not received an answer from Aramark regarding the closing rumors as of print time, “we do know that with the [budget shortfall] they’ve been looking to close hours somewhere,” Brofsky commented, though she did not know if that would specifically affect the Stein.

“Staff is where all the money goes for dining,” Rubin said. Aramark will be forced to “cut back on staff or hours” due to the university’s budget problems, she added.

Even before the university’s budget shortfall for the current fiscal year was confirmed, the Stein had already been subject to a variety of changes, including ending lunch hours and removing items from the menu. The changes have led to poorer business, employees said.

“Last year was crazy. We had so many people,” Langdon-Embry said. This year, instead of serving between 10 and 15 tables on a Friday night at any given time, Langdon-Embry only serves two, which has caused a marked decline in her tips, she explained.

“The menu change really, really had an impact on people not coming,” she commented. “Profits have noticeably gone down.”

The anonymous student agreed, saying, “this semester, with the slashed-down menu, business is absolutely terrible.”

After talks with the Union’s Dining Services Committee, some popular items have returned to the menu, causing an upswing in business, Langdon-Embry and Rubin said.

Even so, the Stein doesn’t bring in a profit, Langdon-Embry said. Others have said that the Stein is losing money currently, though Aramark refused to comment.

Despite uncertainty regarding the restaurant’s economic viability, closing the Stein did not sit well.

“The job there is amazing,” Langdon-Embry remarked. “We get paid so well.”

“Everyone realizes that the Stein is really important to Brandeis,” Brofsky commented, “I don’t think anyone wants to close the Stein.”