Staff plenty, patrons few at Lone Pine

by AnnMary Mathew | 11/20/03 6:00am

While the number of students employed at Lone Pine Tavern has been cut significantly since major menu changes went into place this fall, an even bigger decline in the number of patrons has left employees with few students to serve for much of the evening, according to some student workers.

Employment at the Tavern was cut back significantly this fall. While about 30 to 35 students were employed at the Tavern last spring, according to manager Sarah Edes, the number currently stands at 21.

Accounting for most of the lost jobs was the elimination of waitressing. Patrons now pick up their food from a window.

"People used to complain of slow service," DDS Director Tucker Rossiter said. "There had to be enough staff to meet demand at peak hours and sometimes people would be left with nothing to do. The smaller, self-service menu was introduced to reduce such inefficiencies."

"The Tavern has its own niche," Rossiter said. According to Rossiter, the Tavern is a popular venue and what brings people in more than anything else is programmed entertainment.

But according to Zobeida Torres '06, a student manager who has been working at the Tavern since her freshman winter, the menu change -- which eliminated many traditional dishes in favor of wraps and salads -- has had a significant negative impact on the number of students who visit the Tavern each night.

"Some people just look at the new menu and leave. Sometimes they ask for the old menu," she said.

The restaurant currently has around 82 patrons per night -- about half of what it had per night before the menu change, according to Torres. While the Tavern used to make $800 to $900 per night; that number has dropped off to $200 to $500 per night.According to Samba Silla '07, an employee of Lone Pine, "[how much the tavern] makes really depends on the time. Sometimes we make $200 in one hour and sometimes we don't make any money at all."

The hours of operation at the Tavern are divided into the "early" period from 5 to 10 p.m. and the "late" period from 10 to 1 or 2 a.m. There are very few customers during the early period, according to Torres, while business picks up during the late period when customers usually come in for drinks.

Despite the cutbacks, Edes is optimistic about Lone Pine's prospects. While business did start off slow this term, Edes said, it has since improved "a bit." She also has noticed an increase in patronage as more and more students find out that the Tavern sells various Starbucks drinks.

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