Rumors Postpone Dining-Dollar Option

Miscommunication among A.S. councilmembers regarding the Grove Cafe’s health rating temporarily obstructed plans to allow dining dollars to be used as a form of payment at the struggling eatery earlier this month.

Bringing dining dollars to the Grove is part of the council’s ongoing attempt to revitalize its lagging enterprise, which reopened in January after a brief remodeling period.

At the final student council meeting of Winter Quarter, Vice President of Finance and Resources Peter Benesch announced that dining dollars would be accepted at the cafe beginning Spring Quarter.

However, rumors that the Grove had received a ‘B’ health rating postponed the council’s efforts.

In spring of 2009, the Grove — which is currently about $130,000 dollars in debt — received a ‘B’ rating from the UCSD Environment, Health & Safety Department due to sanitation issues, according to UCSD health inspector Jeff Eisnert. EH&S is responsible for UCSD’s food-facility inspection program, which is designed to protect the public from food-borne illnesses.

Permanent food facilities on campus are inspected and rated by EH&S four times a year.

During a health inspection last Winter Quarter — one year after the ‘B’ rating — councilmembers were worried the cafe would again receive a ‘B’.

This sparked a rumor that such a rating had already been assigned. According to Eisnert, the Grove earned a ‘B’ during its Feb. 10 inspection, but has restored the grade to an ‘A’ by a March 1 inspection.

However, councilmembers were unaware of the results, allowing rumors to eventually reach Housing, Dining & Hospitality Director Mark Cunningham. Because HDH has a strict policy of only allowing dining dollars to be accepted by eateries with an ‘A’ health rating, the misunderstanding stalled the project indefinitely.

“We are trying to figure out why we were told something that doesn’t seem to be true anymore,” Benesch said of the misunderstanding.

Associate Vice President of Enterprise Operations Rishi Ghosh attributed the confusion surrounding the Grove’s situation to poor communication between the council and Thomas Frank, student manager at the cafe.

“There has been a lack of communication from Tom Frank, a lack of communication with [the A.S. Council], and repeated attempts by [the council] to make that communication with him,” Ghosh said. “In [the council], we are all very concerned with his performance and his lack of response.”

Benesch said that, by working with Cunningham, he has already resolved the logistical problems facing the Grove — such as conversion between cash, dining dollars and Triton Cash — and that the health rating is the sole remaining factor preventing the dining-dollar program from being implemented.

Benesch, who has not yet communicated with Ghosh on the situation, added that once Eisnert officially clarifies the health rating and assesses a report, the Grove will have a dining-dollar option implemented within a week.

“The only thing that slowed down our progress was the health rating,” Benesch said. “If it wasn’t for that, we literally already had a document ready to be signed between HDH and the Grove. All it would take is just a quick visit from some of HDH’s engineers, and dining dollars would have been in there in a day or two.”

Frank could not be reached for comment.

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