The First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has released a brief statement about the closure of all temple cafeterias globally in 2022:
After careful consideration, and to simplify temple operations, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will permanently close the cafeterias inside its temples in early 2022. The Guayaquil Ecuador and Hamilton New Zealand Temples will require a longer transition period. Cafeterias that are currently closed due to the pandemic will not reopen.
“We are grateful for the dedication of Church members and employees who have assisted in the operation of temple cafeterias for many years,” says an email sent on Friday to Latter-day Saints who serve in the 24 temples with cafeterias.
“Simplify operations” appears to be the driving factor here. With President Russell M. Nelson announcing temples at a record clip in areas with as little as one stake, we are steadily moving away from the period in Church history when the saints would travel great distances and over lengthy periods of time to work at the temple. These trips often included sleeping in temple apartments where available and dining in the temple’s cafeteria. The cafeterias also serve temple workers.
However, just as the Hinckley-era “mini” temples famously removed laundry services from temples—something that has increasingly become the norm—additional extraneous service cuts were also inevitable. We just don’t need cafeterias like we used to. Indeed, many temples that once had full-service cafeterias have seen those spaces given over to seating, vending machines, and microwaves. Nothing gets you ready for your next session like a microwaveable burrito!
Per the announcement, 24 temples remain with cafeterias, but the Church did not elaborate on whether those were cafeterias in name only (i.e. serving areas and infrastructure still exist, but the actual facilities haven’t been used for some time) or functional cafeterias, COVID-related closures notwithstanding.
And for some reason, temples in Ecuador and New Zealand need a little extra time. Each temple must have a top-flight cafeteria, likely serving fresh Mediterranean fare prepared by notable sous chefs. Rumor has it only at the Guayaquil Ecuador Temple can one get a beauvoir cake topped with an isomalt dome. It’s high living.
At this stage, it’s unclear which other superfluous services can be “simplified” in temples, unless they call fewer workers and open up self-service kiosks to scan recommends or print out name cards.
How’s it been in your area pre-pandemic? Did your temple have an operating cafeteria or did it disappear some time ago?