Where Our Taste Buds Are in Charge
Where Our Taste Buds Are in Charge
  • Lee Gayun ,Jo Yoo Suyeon
  • 승인 2023.11.01 09:43
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Two on-campus cafeterias at SMWU


Noonsong, a frequent user of the on-campus cafeterias, got into a conversation with a friend from another university about the cafeterias at their school. While discussing the taste, quality, and operating system, she discovered that SMWU's cafeteria prices are more expensive than at her friend's. As she reflected on her experience after the conversation with her friend, Noonsong realized that there are other aspects of the cafeteria system that she hopes to see improved besides prices.


Transforming two cafeterias for students

Sookmyung Women's University has two school cafeterias for students. One is located on the basement floor of Queen Sunheon Building and is named Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant. The other is located on the basement floor of Myungshin Building and is named Myungshin Building Restaurant. Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant has had a total capacity of 283 seats since the second half of this year after it was remodeled during the last summer vacation. The school said that through this construction, the wall between the existing cafeteria and cafe was removed, and the area used is now more than 40% larger than before. Also, after the contract with Samsung Welstory expired, a new contract was signed with Bon Food Service. The school's other cafeteria, Myungshin Building Restaurant, is operated by Life Good Company. This was originally called Misochan, but the name was changed to Myungshin Building Restaurant and the interior environment was also improved during the summer vacation period. Students considered the previous interior to be too dark, so the wallpaper and lighting were replaced with brighter ones. Both currently use a system where students purchase a meal ticket at a kiosk. However, there are some differences between them in terms of menu selection. In the case of Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant, the company creates a new menu every week and puts it up on the school's website so that students can visit Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant on specific days. On the other hand, the Myungshin Building Restaurant has a permanent menu except for the soup & stew corner for students to choose from at a kiosk.
The two cafeterias are trying to increase student satisfaction through several changes. Yoo Su-min, Division of Economics '20, said, "I think Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant provides good quality food for the price of 6,500 won. With this remodeling, I am satisfied because it is a good space to eat alone." This change seems to have created a space where more students feel comfortable eating on their own. However, she also said, "If there is a dissatisfaction, it is that the kiosk is in the corner. It is inconvenient to stand in line during lunch time. It would be nice if the number of kiosks could be increased to reduce the hustle and bustle." By placing the kiosks in the corners unlike before, it is inconvenient to stand in line during peak hours. In addition, in the responses to a survey prepared by SMT, another dissatisfaction regarding the kiosks was also found. There was one comment on the use of kiosks in the two cafeterias: "Students with physical disabilities may have difficulty using the kiosks. Since both cafeterias use kiosks, it would be better if there was a separate area for them to pay." In both cafeterias, students with disabilities have difficulty using the kiosks to purchase meal tickets, so they need to find another way to accommodate them. As such, it seems that the current inconveniences need to be addressed through new methods.



For better energy, what students demand

SMT surveyed SMWU's students to find out their opinions on the cafeterias. If they had any dissatisfaction with them, they were allowed multiple responses. First, they were asked if they had ever used the school cafeterias and, if so, which of the two they used more. Of the 509 respondents, 476 (93.5%) said they had, and 251 out of 476 (52.7%) said they "use the Myungshin Building Restaurant more."1) 119 out of the 476 (25%) said they "use Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant more than the Myungshin Building Restaurant," while 69 out of the 476 (14.5%) said they "do not use either." For the first group, they were then asked why they used the Myungshin one more. 162 out of 251 (64.5%) said it was because they "can choose from various menu items." Next, 119 out of 251 (47.4%) said that "the prices are more reasonable than that of Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant," and 88 out of 251 (35%) said that "the hours of operation are longer." On the other hand, for the second group who use Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant more often, 83 out of the 119 (69.7%) said they mainly use it more often because "the nutrients in the food seem to be more evenly distributed." This was followed by 44 out of the 119 (37%) who said it was better to "control the amount of food we want to eat." 125 out of the 509 (24.6%) students said they had never or rarely used either of the two cafeterias, and 69 of them (55.2%) said, "The food at the restaurants around the campus is better." This was the most common reason for not using the school cafeteria. 66 out of 125 (52.8%) students said that "the food is not cheap despite being a school cafeteria." From the survey, it seems that students are generally dissatisfied with the prices, quality, and quantity of the meals.
Respondents were then asked how satisfied they were with Myungshin Building Restaurant, and 329 out of 509 (64.6%) said they were "generally satisfied." This was followed by 111 out of 509 (21.8%) who said they were "very satisfied" and 69 out of 509 (13.6%) who were "generally dissatisfied." Regarding the reasons for their satisfaction, 294 out of 440 (66.8%) said "satisfied with the price," followed by 211 out of 440 (48%) who said, "The food is served quickly." 178 out of 440 (40.5%) said they were "satisfied with the taste and quantity of the food." On the other hand, among 69 out of 509 (13.6%) students who said they were dissatisfied, 40 out of 69 (58%) cited "the price is too high" as the top reason. 20 out of 69 (29%) were "not satisfied with the taste and quantity of the food," while 17 out of 69 (24.6%) pointed out "the low turnover ratio of the cafeteria." Meanwhile, when asked how satisfied they were with Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant, 334 out of 509 (65.6%) said they were "generally satisfied." This was followed by 93 out of 509 (18.3%) who said they were "generally dissatisfied." When asked why they were satisfied with Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant, 192 of 411 (46.7%) chose "because the taste and quantity are satisfactory" as their top reason. This was followed by 159 out of 411 (38.7%) who said they "do not have to wait for the food to be cooked," and 154 out of 411 (37.5%) who said they "do not have to choose the menu." On the other hand, 81 out of 98 (82.7%) were dissatisfied with Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant because "the price is not reasonable," and 55 out of 98 (56.1%) said they were "dissatisfied with the taste and quantity." 48 out of 98 (49%) said, "My favorite dishes are not offered." Finally, respondents were asked if they were aware of the changes at Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant. 313 out of 509 (61.5%) stated that they "didn't know about the change." 134 out of 509 (26.3%) said, "I think the current company is better," and 62 out of 509 (12.2%) said, "I think the previous company was better." Of the students who chose "didn't know" or "think the previous company was better," 219 out of 375 (58.4%) said they "hadn't noticed much of a difference." This was followed by 60 out of 375 (16%) who said, "The food options were better before," and 15 out of 375 (4%) who said, "The previous service was better." The survey shows that many students are unaware of the changes and in order to increase student satisfaction, both cafeterias need to work on addressing common complaints.


Dirty tables in Myungshin buliding restaurant


A delicious change is needed

After hearing the students' opinions, written interviews with the two on-campus cafeterias were carried out. Firstly, Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant said that they believe their competitive advantage over the surrounding restaurants is their daily menu, nutritional balance, and hygiene. In addition to those factors, they were also informed that students thought the prices, which are a key factor in the operation, are "not cheap." In response, the operator of Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant said that they are a contractor with the school and do not have a say in the prices. For this reason, they could not know or reveal the criteria for setting prices or comment on the possibility of price changes. Among the students' requests to Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant, a change in the way the kiosks are operated was mentioned. Students thought that the location of the kiosk, which is currently in a corner outside the dining room, is not barrier-free, and it is difficult to use it smoothly due to the queue during peak hours. In response, Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant said that it is difficult to change the location of the kiosk because there are many environmental factors to consider, such as the internet and electricity. Regarding the control of the queue, they said that they are currently trying to reduce congestion by using queue barriers. Another request from students was for dinner to be served in addition to breakfast and lunch. In response, the company said that they do not currently have data on the demand for dinner. However, they said if there is a lot of demand from students for a dinner service, it is possible to conduct their own research and operate it in the future. In this respect, it seems that the management system of Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant is open to change based on students' opinions.
Myungshin Building Restaurant, the second on-campus cafeteria, was also interviewed. In comparison to the surrounding restaurants, they said their strengths include having a large space optimized for group dining and a fast turnover rate. Regarding the price, which is one of the factors that make up their operating system, many students complained that it is not affordable. In response, they said that with a wide variety of menu items, the price range varies from 3,800 won to 7,000 won. In particular, they explained that the cup rice corner, which can easily be eaten, is very popular, and the sprouts and tofu cup rice, which accounts for about 60 percent of sales, is reasonably priced at 3,800 won. This shows that, contrary to the students' responses, Myungshin Building Restaurant is not considering lowering the price, as the menu item with the highest demand from students is relatively cheap at 3,800 won. Students also thought that the cafeteria's hygiene management was insufficient. They cited the crowds during mealtimes as a reason for hygiene concerns due to the difficulty in managing each table when more than 200 students are present all at once. They agreed that there had been negligence in the management of the hall, and said that they would be willing to conduct periodic management during business hours in addition to the hygiene management before the cafeteria opens. It seems that two on-campus cafeterias have the potential for improvement by listening to students' feedback.


Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant
Myunsing buliding restaurant's menu


To make a satisfying meal

The role of on-campus cafeterias is to allow students to eat on campus at a reasonable price. Along with many changes, SMWU's Queen Sunheon Building Restaurant and Myungshin Building Restaurant are providing a variety of services, each with their own strengths to compete with the surrounding restaurants. However, students still have some complaints about them. It seems necessary for students and both cafeterias to communicate with each other and create an improved system of operation and service.


1) The total number of students enrolled is 12,710, with a survey participation rate of about 4%.


Lee Gayun / Editor-in-Chief

Jo Yoo Suyeon / Reporter

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