Caroline’s Seaside Café

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The history of food service at SIO is not exactly sordid, but it also not without drama.

When I first started working here, Snackropolis was operated by campus housing & dining. This was very useful to me at the time, because I was a student, and could use my TritonPlus (which is no longer called that, but I couldn’t tell you what it is called now) card to buy food. Snackropolis was very basic and very tiny. Prepackaged salads, sandwiches, burgers, and soup. Essentially.

A few years ago, HDS (housing & dining) pulled out, saying that Snackropolis’ revenue was too low to continue operations (after they had jacked up the prices some). CUPS, which ran the coffee cart at the library, stepped in on a temporary basis to provide food service until the café at the Forum opened. Which was years out at that point.

The Forum opened, what, two years ago? Anyways, they finally got that café open this week. I went with a couple co-workers to check it out. Caroline’s Seaside Café

Ambiance:
The interior of the café is really nice. It’s clean and modern with teak and glass tile accents. Good lighting, excellent views of the ocean. There is a large outdoor patio, as well, protected by glass walls from the wind. There was more than enough seating, which is a huge improvement from Snackropolis. Plus, (since we were inside) we didn’t have to scare away over-eager gulls or squirrels (actual problems). Grade: A

Food:
To quote the movie Sideways, “Quaffable, but far from transcendent.” The food was good, just not great. For my $8 caprese panini, I expected it to be a little bit bigger (it was about 4″ square). And it needed more panini-ing. The cheese was not quite melty. The side salad was baaaarely dressed and was basically a blob of mixed greens. My co-worker’s fries were quite excellent, though. The pasta salad side also seemed middling. I heard one rave review over one of the burgers, however. The food is billed as organic and local, so the pricing points are kind of high for what you get. Here is a vegetarian panini and side salad:

Grade: C+ (also taking into account they’ve only been open 2 days, so this may improve)

Service:
The cashiers were really nice, and I felt sorry for them, but the line was LOOOOOOOOONG.
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The cashiers were ringing people up in line, taking phone orders, getting drinks, and ringing up people with call-in orders. It…was not efficient. We waited to order a little more than 10 minutes (maybe 10 people in front of us??). My boss, who showed up later, waited more than 20. However, once ordered, the food showed up at incredible speed. The busers seemed efficient, but none of the workers seemed like they were in a great hurry, despite the crowd. Grade: B-

Suggestions:
They really could have benefited from a runner who was only doing phone orders/getting drinks.

I’m sure things will smooth out over time. And I definitely would go there again (after not having eaten at Snackropolis in several years!). Overall grade: B-/C+

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