I love The Hub. I love The Hub so much that I’m even considering relocating my blue, extra-long, twin mattress to beneath the pool table. It is the ideal spot to be at Claremont McKenna for sports games, evening snacks, and group study sessions. CMC’s motto may be “civilization prospers with commerce,” but it could just as easily be “civilization prospers with mozzarella sticks.”
Side note: Have you noticed how everything at CMC has an official uppercase name? The Hub. The College Programming Board. The Endowed Crown Paper Napkins for Learning Fund.
While I love The Hub, this would not be a very interesting article if I proceeded to praise our casual eatery in the remaining 1,050 words. You might be tempted to navigate away and watch clips of hoverboards bursting into flames or Derek Zoolander answering questions, and then The Forum would be at a loss for your advertising revenue and Don Draper would roll over in his grave. Instead, I am going to do the most CMC thing possible — perform a case study on The Hub to point out some of its weakne–, I mean growth and development areas, and offer potential solutions.
Let’s begin with a review of the ordering process. One of the main advantages of The Hub is meal replacement; if you miss Collins dinner because you cannot stand to brave the aviation-strength wind turbines at the door, The Hub has your back. However, the food proportions for a meal replacement at The Hub hardly resemble a dinner at Collins, nor do the prices. The cash price for dinner at Collins is $16.25 versus $6 at The Hub, yet both equate to one meal swipe. With the incentive to push as many students as possible to The Hub, it is no wonder that Collins makes so much sushi. A fair trade would be two or three Hub sandwiches for one meal replacement. Anything less and we won’t be trained to expand our stomachs, a CMCer will never win a hotdog-eating contest, and consequently, our school will likely never climb to the top of the U.S. News & World Report rankings.
Payment at The Hub is also limited to cash, flex, and meal replacement — no credit or debit cards, especially those with the futuristic security “chip.” Try to use a debit card and you’ll see what I mean. The cashier will look at you like you are trying to barter an antique lamp for a sandwich.
All this talk of food brings us to the second opportunity for improvement: consistent preparation. For the past three-and-a-half years, I have ordered the exact same meal from The Hub: wheat bread, turkey, lettuce, tomato, provolone cheese, and fries. In full disclosure, for the first semester of my freshman year I also included avocado in the order, but between the $1 add-on charges at The Hub and $2 at Chipotle, I was going broke. Sans avocado, I have ordered the same sandwich every time. The beauty of The Hub is that regardless of how I place the order, I never know what type of sandwich I am actually going to receive. Sometimes the bread is toasted, sometimes not. Sometimes I get tomatoes, sometimes not. Sometimes it’s really a Philly cheese steak, sometimes not. Whereas I might otherwise be lulled into complacency, The Hub and its neon green and orange couches keep me on my toes.
Maybe The Hub should poach some talent from Chipotle. The skill of wrapping an overflowing burrito is probably transferable, although maybe E. Coli is too. That’s no good, especially since we already have Collins dinner stews to invoke bowel distress. Maybe we should hire from In-N-Out, but that still only solves the second problem.
For the third area of improvement, we need to turn to America’s heartland of innovation; no, not Silicon Valley, but the Department of Motor Vehicles. Just hear me out. On your last trip to a local DMV you likely received a ticket number before meeting with a kind and dutiful civil servant. You then took this number to a chair where you proceeded to watch Judge Judy decide whether Steve Harvey or Jerry Springer is funnier. Just as the verdict was about to arrive 45 minutes later, you looked up at a black and red analog screen and saw that Gary in cubicle four was “now serving” your number. I know it sounds crazy, but I propose bringing this state-of-the-art technology to Claremont.
In The Hub’s current system, the kitchen staff only gently states your name when your food is ready, so even if your first name has twelve syllables, it is unlikely you will hear it called. Of course, discretion in the kitchen staff is imperative because if they were to speak even one decibel above a whisper they would risk disrupting the whole educational program and we would all have to repeat the semester. That’s probably why The Hub hires former PGA Tour announcers, because they have been trained to speak so softly as to not disturb the sound of grass, or wood chips, growing. This new take-a-number system would require no words whatsoever, making it a much more effective means of communication. If we later determine that the system needs further refinement, perhaps we could look to the U.S. Postal Service for help — after all, they did invent email.
To recap, we have reviewed the ordering, preparation, and delivery of food; however, one more obvious improvement remains. You have your sandwich and fries in hand and are walking to your chair when you stop to think, “Hey, how about having some ketchup with these fries?” Not so fast, cowboy. This here is California, and if you know one thing about Californians it should be that they love their pickup trucks and barbecue sauce. That is why The Hub has generously provided a condiment bar with a vat of barbecue sauce adjacent to the mustard and mayonnaise. Ketchup, consumed only by Vladimir Putin and his sympathizers, is appropriately located in a miniature container that runs empty by 10:00 am. After studying elementary astronomy, I learned that ketchup has extreme evaporation properties that account for its frequent lack of availability; this evaporation takes the form of red vapor wafting throughout The Hub. And to think I was once convinced that this was Claremont’s version of the Northern Lights. The good news is that if we were to keep the ketchup in a large, non-translucent container (similar in size and makeup to those of the barbecue sauce, mustard, and mayonnaise), the mystery of the disappearing ketchup would be solved.
The above are my four suggestions to make Claremont’s favorite eatery even better. I am uncertain, however, that the Bon Appétit management company will be able to execute on these improvements. After all, when was the last time that the kitchen staff said “bon appétit!” as they handed you your food? It seems a little disingenuous, don’t you think?
A final suggestion, then, is to consider bringing more student engagement to The Hub. The Coop at Pomona is student-run, and if a Sagehen can do it, then why can’t we? Let’s bring in the Claremont Consulting Group or SOURCE to do what CMC does best: consult. If Bon Appétit resists, the Student Investment Fund can buy them out and put up new student management. Of course, these are all just ideas, like the Snuggie or the pet rock. Whether any of them are impactful depends on what follows.