Servery works to reduce lines, offers options to community


Photo credit: Anna Brodsky

The servery features hot food options, salad, soup, frozen yogurt, snacks, breakfast, drinks and a grab-and-go section.

Although students and faculty experienced new classrooms, common areas and work spaces after the opening of the Diana Meehan center last spring, one newly remodeled room remained dormant. Archer’s new servery was launched at the beginning of this year and began providing food to students on the first day.

“We really thought of it like the soft launch of a restaurant,” Upper School Director Gretchen Warner said. “Everything about the system, the servery, the kitchen, the space, everything was brand new.”

Sous-chef Meghan Lambert said operating the school servery is a “new experience.”

“It’s a big change for a lot of us, especially Jeff and myself,” Lambert said. “We came from hotels, so the hours are different; the workload is completely different. But I want to thank everyone for being so welcoming and polite, which is amazing, because in our line of work you don’t always have the nicest people.”

On the first two days of school, the new servery provided lunch to all members of the Archer community at no cost. On the first day, student entry was staggered, but on the second, many of Archer’s 490 students were in line for lunch at the same time.

“500 people going through one line, it’s going to be a little bit of magical mayhem,” Warner said. “But we’re flexible. The kitchen staff was incredibly responsive. Every day they’re iterating, and I know that the team at Culinart is really taking the iterative process seriously.”

Warner also expressed her “gratitude” for faculty and students’ “flexibility” and “understanding” as Archer works with Culinart to refine the system.

“I was just so, so appreciative,” Warner said. “Even the students who were towards the end of the line, everyone was just super gracious and really, really kind about it. Faculty were really flexible. Like any soft launch, it had some hiccups, and we’re working them out.”

The servery has worked to improve wait times by analyzing the serving process.

“What we found out was that the two most important factors in trying to get everybody through quick,” Lambert said. “[One was] being able to plate up, which is when [patrons] come through and they tell you [what they want.] Having two people work on that together, so one person does the main entree and the other person does the vegetable and the starch, … increases it double time. And then also letting people know, ‘Look: we have other things, you don’t have to wait in this line to come in, there’s a lot of things that you can walk in and help yourself to.’”

Warner said the servery is “a complement” to what Archer is already doing: fostering “connections.”

“When I think about coming together over food, that’s just such a wonderful thing for humans to do,” Warner said. “And to have it on campus, and to [come together] over freshly made, whole foods, is just magical, and it’s important. We need to be able to provide meals for our students and our faculty that are here as part of their second home.”