You are here


Public Institution Winner: Virginia Commonwealth University

University Business, Oct 2009

Public Institution Winner:

Virginia Commonwealth University

Total full-time enrollment: 27,000

Institution type: Four-year public

Total number of campus dining facilities (includes any facility serving food; please explain). 23 - 1 residential, 2 c-stores, 20 retail locations including Chili's, Subway, Quiznos and McDonald's

Number of full-service dining facilities (serving three meals a day): 1

Square footage of each main dining facility: 28,500

Location(s) of full-service dining facility on campus: Market 810 - Center of main campus, across from library and University Student Commons and near residence halls

Name of any dining services provider/s: ARAMARK Higher Education

If outsourced, please explain what services are outsourced: ARAMARK manages all aspects of food service in the 23 locations.

Shafer Court Dining Center opened in August 2004. The entrance is a vaulted round two-story gallery accommodating an elevator and a gradual winding staircase to the second floor suite of market style restaurants known as Market 810.

There are six components to the space:

-- Residential Dining (Market 810) ? an all-you-care-to-eat restaurant that encompasses all 28,500 square feet of the second floor

-- Residential dining to-go location

-- A retail location

-- Student lounge

-- Administrative offices

-- Meeting space accommodating 42 seated guests

? Cost - $18 Million

? Free Wi-fi for registered students

? Won American School & University 2005 Gold Citation


? Variety ? daily rotating menu at all seven stations:

-- Grill

-- Home-Style Fare

-- Mongolian Grill and Sushi

-- Pizza, Pasta and Breads

-- Vegan ? grill, pizza, hot entrees and desserts

-- Vegetarian

-- Dessert

?Upper Cuts ? Guests optionally upgrade meals from a selection of premium items

?Dining until midnight most evenings

?Continuous Dining ? uninterrupted from 7am ? 12am


?Location ? The Center is built on and has become the social center of campus

?Multiple Seating Styles ? bar seating, standard tables, hi-top tables, bench seating and exhibition seating

?Artwork - Murals created by renowned VCU artists

?The student-run radio station provides entertainment

?Faculty and staff seating area is blended into student spaces

?Multiple TV's broadcast sports and news

?Outdoor seating ? covered and uncovered


?Late Night Breakfast ? A relaxed event before exams allowing students to mingle with professors and administrators and play games while eating

?Guest Restaurant ? Monthly, a local ethnic restaurant prepares a portion of their menu, providing diversity and community support

?Monthly Events ? Including Arcade, Vegas and Karaoke Nights

?Spacious feeling created by open floor plan, large lofted spaces and floor-to-ceiling windows

?Depending on food preferences, students quickly learn the style of food served at each station. They can go straight to the type of food they prefer without waiting in long lines.

?Many different places to dine ? in the center of the action in exhibition-style seating, near the stairwell to watch friends, at the "bar", in the "Quiet Zone" for some serious studying or over in the West Wing away from the crowds

?Exhibition cooking seating ? seating arranged in pods around various stations

?One entrance area and one exit area ? secured access (not including fire exits)

?Multiple drink stations facilitate convenient refills and reduce lines

?Auto shades for lighting/sun control

?A variety of table options ? seating at a "bar" overlooking the courtyard, large table dining for group conversation, small tables for two and bistro-style seating around the open area

Main drivers of initiatives include

-- A University commitment to environmental responsibility

-- Student demand


?UV Grease Hoods ? chemical free air treatment ? 2004

?Pulper - 2004

?Batch cooking reduces production waste ? 2004

?University President's Sustainability Council formed with a Subcommittee on Food/Dining ?2008

?Waste week ? Semi-Annual event that results in approximately 425 pounds of food being diverted from the landfill just based on food served but not consumed

?Solar trash compactor ?2009

?Earth Hour ?2009

?Trayless ?2009

?Timers on lights ?2004

?Continually making improvements:

-- Motion sensor water faucets ? 2004, replaced 2009

-- Compostable straws and napkins ? 2008

-- Air dryers in lieu of paper towels ?2004

-- Ionically charged water floor cleaning system ?2008

-- Sustainable floor finish and sealer ?2008

?Waste Awareness campaign ? 2009

-- Window clings for placement near self-service food locations and drink stations reminding students to watch portions

-- Themed and education posters - "Love Food/Hate Waste"

?All reusable dinnerware, glasses and flatware ? 2004

?Unbleached napkins - 2006

?Purchase local products ? In addition to seasonal produce, all tofu and tempeh comes from a local certified commune - 2007

Guest Input:

?Semi-Annual Survey ? ARAMARK measures guest satisfaction. This information is reported up through VCU Administration.

?Guest Intercept Surveys ? At least once an academic year

?We demonstrate a desire for, and value of, feedback by providing seven avenues:

-- Comment Cards ? Responses are posted with 48 hours of submission

-- Telephone ? Calls are answered during normal business hours or returned the next morning

-- E-mail ? A customer service representative is usually able to respond to e-mails within an hour. E-mails received overnight are responded to the next morning

-- Accessible Administrative Offices ? ARAMARK's offices are located just below Market 810 in Shafer Court Dining Center

-- A walk-up window at the University ? Window is staffed during normal business hours

-- Manager Availability and Visibility ? Market 810 management is always present and identifiable either by a tie or chef's jacket

-- Monthly Food Advisory Meetings ? Guests can attend a monthly meeting with Dining Services Administration and ARAMARK

?Work with University Administration and Student Government Association


A - Is the request legal, moral and affordable?

B - Is the request pertinent to the majority?

C - What is a reasonable time-line for implementing the request?

?THRIVE Program ? ARAMARK's proprietary program for rewarding employees based on customer feedback and exceptional customer service

?Maintain a consistent, friendly staff , particularly at cash registers to greet students each day. These greeters are the first point of contact for guests and the consistency allows greeters to recognize repeat guests

?Interview new hires focusing on customer service as the primary behavioral based competency

?Management Accessibility and Availability ? Managers are always available and accessible to employees and guests

?Semi-Annual Customer Service Training ? All employees go through a proprietary Hospitality Training

?Open House Experience

-- The University sponsors Open House events where prospective students and their parents eat in Market 810 and other campus dining facilities.

-- Dining Services staff works the Open House Trade Show where they talk with parents and students, provide brochures and answer questions.

?Summer Camps/Programs

-- VCU hosts several Summer Camp Programs. The participants dine daily in Market 810 where we strive to make a unique experience for them.

?New Student Orientation (NSO)

-- During this day and a half orientation, students dine in various dining facilities and we try to create unique experiences each day of the orientation - perhaps a cooking demonstration, an ice cream sampling, etc.

-- New Student Orientation (NSO) Opportunities Fair ? The Fair allows Dining Services staff to talk with all 3,700 incoming freshmen and their guests, as well as prospective students.

-- NSO Presentation ? As part of the orientation program for parents, Dining Services speaks in a lecture format to parents and guests

?Additional Marketing Efforts

-- E-mail

-- Website

-- Semi-Annual brochure mailing

-- Facebook announcements

-- Promotional mailings

-- Posters placed around campus

Financially Sustainable ? The program is financially sustainable

Approximately 55% of plan participants are mandatory based on selection of dormitory-style housing. The additional 45% of sales represent voluntary dining plan registrations.

Cost Controls

?Flexible choice program -Students opt-in to premium items and events. Those students wishing to partake bear fully allocated costs.

?Made-from-scratch items to reduce cost (i.e. bread own chicken)

?Batch-cooking to eliminate costs of over-production

?Made-to-order items on the menu to eliminate over-production

?Our food service provider contract places the cost management initiatives on the contractor


Register now for UBTech 2018

Register now for UBTech 2018, June 4-6 at the Mirage, Las Vegas. At UBTech 2018, you’ll network with a dynamic community of higher ed leaders who are shaping the future of campus technology and explore topics like cyber security, distance learning, campus learning space design, communications, personalized learning and more. Your UBTech registration also includes a free pass to the InfoComm exhibit hall.

Register now>>