New food service contract brings major changes to campus dining
By Chris Horn, email@example.com, 803-777-3687
The new food service contract with Aramark promises to bring big changes to the campus dining scene, both in restaurant options and dining facilities.
One of the highlights of the 15-year contract is $79 million in dining facility improvements and new construction, including a new dining hall for the future Campus Village replacing Bates, Bates West and Cliff apartments, and renovations and a major addition to the Russell House’s dining areas.
The changes begin early in the spring 2018 semester when Cooper’s Corner at Thomas Cooper Library is converted into a full-service Starbucks. Another Starbucks will open at the same time in the ground level of the Humanities Classroom Building.
Two new food acquisition options begin this academic year: online ordering via a phone app later this semester and on-campus food delivery next semester for students, faculty and staff. The latter service will be a student-managed program and will contribute toward Aramark’s goal of hiring 150 student workers this year and double that number in 2018-19.
Next summer, the first-floor Grand Marketplace in the Russell House will be remade, with a full-service Chick-fil-A to replace the smaller version of that restaurant currently on the second floor. Aramark will also open Congaree Smokehouse, a barbecue eatery, and Olilo, a Mediterranean-inspired restaurant from “Iron Chef” Cat Cora. Other possible additions include Au Bon Pain, a fast-casual bakery and café, and an Asian or pan-Asian franchise.
The summer of 2019 will see a nearly 23,000-square-foot addition to the second floor of the east side of the Russell House. The expansion will increase the size of the ballroom, provide more space to the University Bookstore and create a new all-access dining facility on the second floor.
In 2020, an all-access dining meal plan will replace current meal plans for freshmen, and several dining facilities across campus will become all-access sites.
“With all-access dining you can come and go whenever you want and eat as much or as little as you’d like,” says Clete Myers, resident district manager for Aramark and a 1990 HRSM graduate of the university. “All-access will take away a lot of the restrictions on meal plans and will cater especially to on-campus students.”
Also looking ahead to 2020, the first phase of Campus Village is scheduled for completion, bringing with it new residence halls and a new dining facility and other retail space for the south campus.
Aramark is committed to using as much S.C.-grown produce as possible, particularly in the Honors Residence Hall dining hall. In conjunction with Green Quad, Aramark plans to start a hydroponic freight farm that will grow lettuces and greens on campus.
Healthy food options and improvements to campus dining facilities are only part of Aramark’s commitment, says Faren Alston, Aramark’s on-campus marketing manager.
“The service we provide is more than just serving someone food,” Alston says. “Our employees see students multiple times every day — we might have more contact with them than anyone else on campus. We see them and talk to them, and we hope we’re adding to the positive experience of living on campus.”
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