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Dining app aims to ease lines

By Melissa Proulx, Staff Writer

The spring semester has begun and though the work may not be piling up just yet, University of New Hampshire Dining Services is already doing its part to help students focus more on their work and less on waiting in line for food.

This past week, each of the seven dining locations had a soft launch of the app Tapingo, which allows users to order their food from the location of their choice of UNH Dining retail locations on the go.

The app shows users the menu of whatever place they pick. For UNH specifically, students, faculty and staff have access to the entire menus of Philbrook Café, including the Starbucks and Pita Pit menus, Zeke’s Cafe, Wildcatessen, Cornerstone 1926, the Dairy Bar, Albert’s café and the Artisan and Creative Green shops in Union Court.

“What we’re looking at doing is just making sure that we offer other opportunities to all faculty, staff and the student body to use our retail operations,” said Retail Manager Richard LeHouiller. “So for those who don’t want to wait in line, this is a way to bring them into the retail operations and helps us generate more revenue … and increase the level of service for the part of the university that doesn’t want to come when it’s busy. It’s a win-win all around.”

With a comment section available as well, students are able to modify the items to their own specific dietary needs or desires as well.

Though anyone can use the app, which is free to download in the iTunes app and Google Play stores, LeHouiller isn’t expecting everyone to use it.

“I don’t think it’s going to fit everybody. For some it’s too impersonal, so it will be interesting to see how many jump on board,” he said. “But I think for the sake of saving time and convenience, I think we’ll see quite a few [students, faculty and staff] jump on board.”

And though the app is designed to benefit users, Dining will also receive some additional help. The app will keep track of peaks and down times for the various locations and allow Tapingo to give them advice on when might be a good time to offer a special or deal.

For this next week, Ashley Farrar, a campus launch associate from Tapingo, will be wandering around the various on-campus locations, promoting the app and letting members of the UNH community know how they can utilize it.

“A lot of students are really timid to use it but there’s no fees,” said Dahlia Nardone, the assistant retail manager for Dining Services. “So she’s going to explain that it’s just a service we want to provide to students to get them in and out faster.”

With a handful of students already taking advantage of the app, Nardone reports that eight used it on the first day. Both she and LeHouiller are excited for the positive impact they believe it will have.

Graphic by Melissa Proulx
Graphic by Melissa Proulx

“Will there be any challenges? You never know until you test it,” LeHouiller said. “That’s what we’re going to be doing for the next couple of weeks.”

Tapingo is an international company based out of San Francisco, California and Tel Aviv in Israel. Though it is marketed mainly towards colleges and universities, restaurants and other food service industries have access to be programmed into the application as well.

The app, which launched in 2012, is currently being used at a handful of other college campuses including Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California; the University of Arizona in Tucson, Arizona; Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut; New York University in New York City, New York; and the University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Right now, the app is just available to be used with the seven retail operations on campus, and not the dining halls, with no plans to take advantage of the technology for those locations in the future.

“Right now just for the retail operations,” LoHouiller said. “[Use for the dining halls] hasn’t been discussed at this time. It’s pretty much just focused on the retail because that’s where you can’t use the meal plans, but you can use dining dollars and Cats Cache.”

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