Scientific Dining: Reviews of research institute cafeterias
General Motors Research and Development Center Cafeteria Warren, Michiganby Stephen Drew [This is a shortened version. For full text see AIR 1:4.]
The cafeteria at the GM Research and Development Center is very clean. Sited majestically in the basement, just steps from the base of a gleaming Eero Saarinen-designed spiral staircase, it attracts a well-groomed and occasionally faithful lunch crowd of hungry researchers.
Just outside the cafeteria entrance, a blood-pressure monitor has been placed next to a display of plastic-wrapped real food.
Every table features a bouquet of artificial flowers anchored to an attractive woven basket.
We asked, "What is there about this cafeteria that distinguishes it from any other research lab cafeteria?" A focus group of five GM staff research scientists answered this question with silence. Eventually, one scientist offered the notion that "itís subterranean."
The build-it-yourself sandwich bar and the do-it-yourself stir-fry facility are popular attractions, and are frequented by researchers and executives alike. Arv Mueller, GMís Vice President and Group Executive for Vehicle Development and Technical Operations, told us that he can always count on the sandwiches. What does he find memorable about them? "Nothing whatsoever. I guess I canít say much about the uniqueness of the food. Itís just food."
Dr. Linda Means, one of two linguists on GMís research staff, is a member of the cafeteria committee. She recently persuaded the manager to augment his wide range of vegetarian dishes, which previously had been limited to french fries.
Over all, the food was well engineered and highly plentiful. The cafeteriaís regular diners give it a consistent 1 (on the scale of i to pi) in our ratings for both quality and trendiness. "Itís okay if somebody sees me there, but I donít go there to be seen," one scientist explained.
Unlike every other research dining facility we ever visited, the GM cafeteria displays no pictures of bearded men. But it does have a poster of a mustachioed race car driver.
All in all, we found that if you visit the GM Research and Development Center, and if you have to have lunch, and if you canít find your way out of the basement, the cafeteria is a fine place to dine.
Bearded Men: .6
Copyright © 1995 The Annals of Improbable Research (AIR). All rights reserved.