Service that never sleeps

TaLeiza Calloway

24 hours at Rosie’s

Elizabeth Tussey, sophomore English major, talks with Josh King, sophomore Russian translation major, in a booth at Rosie’s Thursday afternoon while waiting for their food to be prepared. STEPHANINE J. SMITH | DAILY KENT STATER

Credit: Carl Schierhorn

Twenty-four hours a day, students come and go to Rosie’s, the diner and convenience store in the rotunda of Tri-Towers.

Over the course of four days, reporter TaLeiza Calloway reconstructed a day at Rosie’s. Here is her report.

6 a.m. Rochelle McCrayer, senior integrated social studies major, walks into Rosie’s Rations to buy chocolate-covered raisins to use in a group project due in a few hours. At about the same time, two men are the first through the line at Rosie’s Diner.

6:20 a.m. Freshman exploratory major Laura Flament orders a sausage cheese bagel. She is on break from her first day of work at Rosie’s. A little exhausted from sweeping, mopping and wiping down countertops, she steps outside to take a cigarette break.

Before she became an employee, Flament came to Rosie’s in the morning and the evening. It just depended on if she felt like walking from Humphrey Hall, she says.

6:45 a.m. Sophomore nursing major Jeff Joseph stops by Rosie’s Rations for a light snack of Ruby Red grapefruit juice and Ritz Crackers.

A resident of Koonce Hall, he says, “It’s quick.” He usually comes twice a day, about half the time before his 7:45 a.m. class.

7:25 a.m. Traffic is slow at the diner. Four people sit on the blue-cushioned stools in front of the main grill. One other person sits in the corner booth reading.

7:30 a.m. Sophomore psychology major Evelyn Boateng orders a sausage, egg and cheese croissant. She has been up all night studying for a test.

7:45 a.m. An employee calls order “342” into the microphone. The numbers come rolling all day.

8:45 a.m. Sophomore nursing major Libby Kauble comes to Rosie’s at the same time every day for her bacon and cheese bagel. Roommate Julie Bair is with her.

“I come here at least twice a day, once in the morning and again around 6 or 7,” Kauble says.

There are about 20 people in line.

“If you’re hungry, then you don’t mind the wait,” Bair says.

9:45 a.m. A student worker announces “Order 386,” “387.”

10:30 a.m. The line at the diner shrinks to about seven people. The line at Rosie’s Rations goes from four to 10 in a matter of seconds as people buy blue Powerade and cheese Combos, raisins and green licorice.

11 a.m. The smell of the room changes to hamburgers and chicken tenders. Employees lay out lettuce, tomatoes and different cheeses to get ready to make wraps for lunch.

Mike Smith, freshman criminal justice major, orders a burger.

“I probably come here four times a day – at least,” he says. “When anyone wants food, we just come down here together.”

11:30 a.m. The lunch line grows from five to 12 people. At Rosie’s Rations, one person buys lemonade, the next a Cherry Coke, the next a bottle of water.

Noon Food service worker Hattie Lemons comes out from the back where food is stocked and is ready for work.

“You want me to start the chicken, too?” she asks a co-worker.

After she puts the chicken tenders in the fryer, she walks over to Rosie’s Rations for a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos for herself.

Dressed in a purple, blue and red headscarf and a white coat with her name embroidered on the left side pocket, Lemons spurts energy.

“Hey, Kimberly,” Lemons says to a student at the checkout line. “Smile for me.”

“I can’t, I’m having a bad day,” Kimberly replies. “I did bad on a test.”

“There’s nothing you can do about it?”

“I went to see my professor, but he said my chances are slim.”

“Well, I know you won’t give up.”

1 p.m. Amelia Rinas, freshman human development and family studies major, orders a breakfast sandwich. Rosie’s serves breakfast whenever it is open.

2:30 p.m. Seven people stand in line at the convenience store waiting while the cashier runs to the side office for two minutes.

At the diner, six people wait to order on the kiosk.

3:30 p.m. An employee calls, “185,” then “186” into the microphone next to pastry bar.

4 p.m. Crisp fries and cheeseburgers wait for their customers. At the grocery store, bottled water and pop wait for students. Manager John Gates says they are constantly restocking the beverage area.

4:30 p.m. “187” “214”

4:45 p.m. Sophomore zoology major John Owens patiently waits for his chicken tender wrap.

“When it’s the only thing open, you have to deal with the wait,” he says. He comes about two or three times a week – mostly in the afternoon. “205” the cook announces as he grabs his wrap and heads out.

5:30 p.m. In the next half hour, the dinner rush will come in, manager John Gates says.

6:30 p.m. People are dressed in everything from a business suit to basketball shorts and tank tops.

7 p.m. Overall, 80 people fill the facility.

7:30 p.m. Students socialize as they wait. In the background, The Temptations “Just my Imagination” plays:

“Each day through my window I watch her as she passes by . But it was just my imagination .”

8 p.m. Students dressed in pink striped pajama pants, black slippers with fur on top, and blue shorts with “KENT” in yellow letters across the back wait to order. They are joined by students wearing jeans with ripped off pockets who also wait to punch their orders in on a kiosk. In this line stands freshman nursing major Staci Crist.

Crist waits for her usual chicken wrap with cheese and ranch dressing. She lives in Leebrick Hall and comes to Rosie’s once a day near dinnertime.

“It’s convenient, and it’s like the only place on campus that accepts your card all the time,” she says.

8:25 p.m. This is the fastest I’ve ever got my food,” Shelby Miller says.

Miller, senior deaf education major, travels to Rosie’s often. The longest she has ever had to wait to actually get her food in her hands was 40 minutes.

“The line is horrible,” she says. “It’s a combination of waiting 20 to 30 minutes in the line and another 20 minutes to get my food.”

Sometimes, she says, the line is wrapped around the rotunda. She says the line stays long because freshmen do not realize there’s somewhere else to go on campus.

9 p.m. A boy flirts with a girl as he waits for his food. Trying to play it cool, he pulls out his cell phone to listen to messages.

“What’s your name?” he asks with a smile.

“Oh, Melissa,” she says unaware he was talking to her.

“You live here?”

“Yeah. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

“I hope so.”

He watches her walk away and then dials a number.

9:20 p.m. “322”

9:30 p.m. “That’s fast service man,” a student says after receiving his order.

“Oh, yeah, they keep chicken fingers,” another student replies.

10 p.m. Five people in a corner booth sing songs while “Blue Moon” plays in the background. Their voices drown it out.

ROTC cadets sitting two booths away discuss how hard physical training was earlier in the day.

10:45 p.m. Cook Ray Brooks sits on one of the end stools to take his break. Brooks works from 7 p.m. to 4 a.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

Brooks, 54, also trains the students and gives assignments for the evening. He says he makes a new friend every day.

“I like to have fun with the kids,” he says. “You should have fun when you’re cooking.”

The diner needs at least seven people working in the preparation area. He remembers one weekend night when only he and one student worked. They could only make fries, nachos and chicken tenders.

He wishes students would understand that Rosie’s cooks orders as they come, unlike a fast food restaurant where food is pre-prepared. Andrea Spandonis, director of Dining Services, says that cooking the food as it ordered is a part of the design. It is also to ensure that students are served fresh food, she says.

11:20 p.m. Narkita Stone, senior theater arts major, shops at Rosie’s every day. Standing in a line of six at Rosie’s Rations she waits to buy her fruit snacks and case of diet coke.

Stone says it is always busy at 11 p.m. when she comes. The weekend is even busier, she says. It is like “Club Rosie’s” on the weekend, she says because it is so busy and security is tighter.

//

12:15 p.m. “343 your order is up.”

12:25 p.m. Cashier Carl Ottens greets each customer.

“How’s your Thursday evening treating you?” Ottens asks a student.

“It is what it is,” she says.

“Is school really that bad?”

“Yeah, they give you all this information and such a short time to remember it.”

“Really that bad?”

“It’s crazy. I tell you. That’s my life story, craziness.”

1:30 a.m. Ottens has been working at Rosie’s for three weeks. In addition to being a cashier at Rosie’s Rations, he is majoring in business management and his wife is a graduate student at Kent State.

“I get to talk to a lot of nice people,” he says.

2:15 a.m. Rick James’ “Super Freak” plays in the background as the late night/ early morning setting calms Rosie’s. Four girls are dressed for a night on the town in pointy-toed heels and v-neck tanks. They stopped in to get their bottled waters.

In the booth near the entrance, a security guard and her friend discuss the odd couples in the music business.

“Who would have thought Jay-Z and Beyonce?” the security guard says.

“What about Jermaine Dupri and Janet Jackson?”

3:15 a.m. Sophomore architecture major Gordon Moss orders a grilled portobello sandwich and all natural fruit smoothie.

He says he frequently comes at this time because architecture majors work late in their Taylor Hall lab, especially on Mondays and Wednesdays. Sometimes 20 or 30 people come to Rosie’s at 3 a.m. because they can no longer be in the lab, he says.

3:45 a.m. It is deserted. Other than the five workers behind the counter talking and laughing about their day, Rosie’s is empty.

4 a.m. Closing begins for the diner. Student workers drain and wash the fryers. The grill is sprayed and wiped down five times. Student workers throw vegetables out and refill the containers. Even though Rosie’s Rations is open 24 hours, the diner closes from 4 to 6 a.m. for cleaning.

4:30 a.m. Hunger lurks throughout Rosie’s as people impatiently wait for it to reopen.

“Do we have to wait until 5?” someone asks.

“No, you don’t have to wait until 5. You have to wait ’til 6,” an employee says.

“Aww, are you serious?”

“I’m sorry. You have to wait.”

4:45 a.m. Closing continues at the diner. People cannot resist blue colored Powerade from Rosie’s Rations, which is open 24-hours.

5 a.m. A student worker restocks the shelves in the cooler and the three curvy isles of the convenience store. The soup and chips sections look a little low.

5:30 a.m. Laura Flament is still learning the cleaning routine, and another employee shows her what areas need done.

“Do we clean the atrium?” Laura says.

“Actually we stop about here,” the employee says, pointing at the edge where Rosie’s starts and the rotunda begin.

“Oh, OK.”

“Let me show you something over here, too.”

6 a.m. Freshmen pre-nursing students Melissa Companioni and Sarah Lenox grab breakfast after studying all night for an exam.

Another day has started at Rosie’s.

Contact features correspondent TaLeiza Calloway at [email protected]