CAFETERIA OVERRUN

I made mention of it briefly in this post but the cafeteria at work shut down in May of this year for a complete renovation. I hadn’t even returned to work at that time but when I returned in June, the cafeteria was closed off and work had “begun”.

Our facilities people outlined that the work would take about four months to complete and that the new cafeteria would open at the end of the summer. Food services became limited. What amounted to a small area that was originally like a coffee shop became the temporary cafeteria. Menu items became limited and virtually every item that was previously prepared fresh was either unavailable or became prepackaged.

During the summer, a friend and I would walk past the shut down cafeteria from the outside. We’d look through the massive windows to see how work was proceeding. At first, things seem to be going at a normal pace. Stuff was being torn out and drywall was removed. Things got interesting when the cafeteria got to be just an empty shell. All the seating had been removed, equipment taken out, carpets ripped out, and so forth. At this point, progress, at least visually, appeared to have just stopped. My memory is a bit hazy but it seemed like it was about late June or early July in the timeline. My friend and I also noticed on our daily walk that none of the construction workers were there after 2pm. The work site was quiet and we couldn’t see anyone doing any construction work.

This continued for weeks and weeks on end. We’d walk by and see no noticeable difference in the renovation. It just sat there as an empty shell. Weeks became months. We began to wonder what exactly was being done every day and what the company was paying for. About two weeks ago, the internal company blog finally got updated with some cafeteria renovation news. They admitted the construction was behind schedule due to “curveballs” that got thrown in the way. What these were was not elaborated on. I wonder what these “curveballs” were. The building itself is sixteen years old, not ancient by any means. The plans for the original cafeteria most likely still exist. It’s not like they tore down a wall and then discovered a natural gas deposit. What could have been so surprising?

The update did try to spin some good news. Apparently October would be a big month, with each week of the month having a major installation of either equipment or fixtures. Unfortunately, I just walked past the work site today and I didn’t see any evidence of major progress at all.

The latest update targeted the new cafeteria opening in late October or early November. I think that’s a completely unrealistic goal. Based on what I saw today and from not knowing any of the construction details, I would guess everything won’t be ready until January of 2017 at the earliest. I pulled that date straight outta my ass but I feel pretty confident about it.

To put into context how long this “four month” renovation has now taken, consider the following. There have been co-op students who started their work term in May and left at the end of August without having a proper meal in a real cafeteria. There are regular full-time employees who started in May or later and have never seen a regular lunch service with all the menu offerings.

Obviously I’m not paying for these renovations but just on principle, I hope the company hasn’t blown the budget on this. I also worry about the people who are overseeing this multi-million dollar project. Corporate HQ in California approved the money for this but you have to wonder if they’ve inquired as to why it’s taking so long for this to get done at one of their flagship studios.

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