Dining Services introduces digital ordering kiosks in Au Bon Pain
By Gabriel Donahue, Deputy News Editor
Towson University Dining Services introduced five digital kiosks in Au Bon Pain on Sept. 12 to increase service speed.
Previously, made-to-order items such as sandwiches, salads and specialty coffee had to be ordered at the counter. Orders are now being placed, with options for customization, on the kiosk’s touch screen.
Once an order is submitted, students have the opportunity to type their phone number in to receive a text alert when it is complete.
“We believe this is a value-add for our students,” Rawn Burnett, regional vice president for Chartwells, TU’s dining services vendor, said in an email.
The kiosks were funded by TU’s Auxiliary Services, which provides campus services, including dining. According to their website, Auxiliary Services Finance & Information Systems manages a $35 million annual operating budget. The Towerlight could not get the kiosks’ exact price by publication.
ABP Manager Donald Lee said there are multiple screens behind the counter for employees to see each order received and how to prepare it. Burnett said the kiosks have been an overwhelming success with students.
Senior Anoosha Mirza said getting a text message is better than waiting for extend periods for her order, as she’s had to in the past.
“You get to sit down, and you don’t have to wait in line anymore,” she said.
Junior Russell Jones said the system could be improved by listing the ingredients of the sandwiches on the ordering screen and allowing students to pay directly at the kiosks rather than requiring them to bring the printed ticket to checkout.
“Keep the kiosks, just let me pay right there,” Jones said.
Burnett said the kiosks were strategically placed along the wall to aid the flow of people within a limited space. Further, he said Chartwells is leaning into the tech savviness of students. The kiosks are an example of the technology students are used to, and bringing them to an on-campus location made sense.
“There would be a lot of people in the room, so you would have to yell or repeat your order a couple times,” senior Maya Larvi said. “Sometimes they would get it wrong. With this, it’s more accurate.”