Once again, three UU canteens close earlier than planned
In October 2019, Utrecht University announced that it would close seven of its nineteen restaurants before the summer of 2020. There are two reasons for this. The first is that the UU will need to find a new caterer, because its contract with Sodexo ends on July 8. The second reason is that a number of the UU’s restaurants are losing money. The UU fears it won’t be able to find a new caterer to take over nineteen locations, when a number of them aren’t turning a profit.
In anticipation of the summer’s closing of the restaurants, Sodexo has already started looking for alternative locations to transfer its staff to. A consequence of this course of action was that three locations – Goliath in the David de Wied building, the canteen in the Law building at the Janskerkhof, and the canteen in the University Library in the city centre – permanently closed during the Christmas break. Now, the news was announced that three other locations will also close earlier than planned.
One of the restaurants that will close is the establishment in the Androclus building. Veterinarians had fought to keep the canteen open, but their actions have proven unsuccessful. The canteen in the Minnaert building will also close next month. When the Science Faculty staff heard the news, they started a study on the lunch preferences of customers frequenting the canteen, because they felt they should at least get a proper alternative. The kiosk in the Administration building will close for the second time. It was closed for some time in 2012, but was then reopened after protests. That will not happen again.
The catering staff of these three locations will move to different UU restaurants, or have found jobs elsewhere at Sodexo. Some have found jobs at other companies. Only one location nominated for closure will remain open for now: a restaurant in the University College Dining Hall.
New caterer in sight
In the meantime, the tender for a new caterer has entered a new phase. The deadline for applications has passed. Several parties have shown interest. Whether Sodexo is one of them, cannot be said, according to the rules of the tender, says Anna Stamp-Jongbloed of the Facilities Service Centre.
If Sodexo isn’t one of the tender parties, or if it is but it loses to another caterer, it doesn’t mean the UU will necessarily have to say goodbye to familiar faces working in catering. “Caterers have to adhere to the collective labour agreement for contract catering. That means that when the university makes an agreement with a different caterer, it will have to take over the staff currently working at UU locations – if the employees want to, of course.”