The buzz: sippin’ with Sodexo


Caleb Geer

Zach Ambrose enjoying a Friday afternoon after class.

by Caleb Geer, Editor-in-Chief

There’s been a lot of buzz about the new plans with Sodexo this year which include painting in Pfeiffer dining hall, new food service hours at each location, and now alcohol sales in Tyler’s Grille.

Senior Zach Stewart was initially surprised that the announcement was made about alcohol sales in Tyler’s. “I didn’t know if it was true right away,” Stewart said.

Starting on Sept. 2, Tyler’s Grille began selling both beer and wine from 4:30pm to 8pm on a trial basis. Sodexo plans to continue these sales every Friday with the potential of adding sales on Saturday

Plans for the sales did not begin too long ago. “This last summer, I actually was talking with [President] Marsha Kelliher and we got talking about it,” Sodexo General Manager, Ben Nielsen said.

By selling alcohol on campus, the goal is to offer something fun, but in a responsible way. Facilitating faculty and staff connections is another that the plan aims to achieve.

Vice President of Student Development, Heidi Levine, remembers discussion of a Simpson College tradition where staff and faculty would have a drink together.

“There used to be a tradition of something like First Friday, where staff members would just get together and have a beer at the end of the week,” Levine said.

Heidi Levine buys the ceremonious first beer.

However, alcohol from Tyler’s is not only reserved for staff and faculty. Students of age can also purchase drinks although only with cash or card. Meal plans cannot be used toward the purchase of alcohol in Tyler’s.

Where customers could go with their drinks after they purchased them caused some confusion initially, but Nielson has since specified that the beverages must not leave Tyler’s. Other restrictions include: only one beverage may be sold to a student at a time, everyone must have their ID scanned and they must wear a wristband when deemed to be of-age.

Nielson also said that Sodexo workers will have to be trained extra to serve alcohol. “It just shows them how to look for body language, the way people talk, demeanor and all that stuff on how much to serve them,” he said.

Currently, Campus Security does not have a presence in Tyler’s during the sale of alcohol. “If we could find somebody that would just come in for those couple hours, we’re definitely still looking for that from security,” Nielsen said, “but as long as students are responsible, we may not have to have a security presence inside Tyler’s.”

Although on the first night of sales wristbands were used to designate being of-age, Nielsen says that stamps will be looked to in the future as a potential option.

Future plans that will run alongside the new alcohol sales will be wings that will also be sold on Fridays at 4:30pm, but will only be sold until they sell out.

Non-alcoholic beverages may also make an appearance beside their alcoholic counterparts in the near future in order to give underage students the opportunity to participate as well.

Estimation of beverages sold on the first night of sales ranges from 12 to 20 drinks. Current selection of drinks includes a fairly basic array consisting of bigger alcohol companies. Nielsen hopes to make more local products such as beer from Des Moines breweries such as Exile and Confluence available.

“We’re going to see how this goes. I just keep reminding students that this is on a trial basis,” Nielsen said. Plans at this time do not include expanding the sales elsewhere on campus.