By Bianca Mena
In the next couple of years, Dominican students may be seeing and tasting some changes in the Dining Hall and Cyber Café. Debra Kash, director of Auxiliary Services, said the contract with Chartwell’s ends June 2015.
Due to some renovations in the dining facilities, Kash said, Chartwell’s may be granted a one-year extension. “We do not know for sure whether we are going through with that or not,” she said.
Chartwell’s has been the food service provider for Dominican since 2007. Before Chartwell’s, the food service provider was Aramark. “Aramark was here for 20+ years,” Kash said.
When Auxiliary Services staff decided to explore other foodservice providers, they went through a process where providers submitted proposals. “We had a couple of different vendors go through that process,” Kash said. “After reviewing all of that data and different proposals, the university chose Chartwell’s.”
For the past couple of years, Auxiliary Services has been improving the dining facilities. “We had done some initial changes in the servery at the main campus,” Kash said, but a high number of resident students prompted Kash to make some changes. Such changes included moving the beverages, once inside the servery, outside in the hallway to avoid congestion.
The Cyber Café was renovated last year. Previously, the cashiers were part of the current ordering line and the beverages were behind the counter. It is now a self-serve line.
Moving the cashiers off the line helped with the flow of things, though Kash said it is still not ideal: “It’s still a tight space. We have a growing population and we have a lot of students that are commuters…there are times where it is very busy because we do not have space.”
Along with the limited space for the growing Dominican community, Kash has concerns about students with special dietary needs. “Food service on a college campus is always tough,” she said. “You have a lot of students that have different needs, especially in this day and age with different allergies, gluten, dietary restrictions.” Kash said limited kitchen and prep space makes it difficult for Chartwell’s workers to provide adequate options for these students.
To help with the current challenges, Dominican has been working on the Heart of Campus project, which will extend the kitchen space. “The focus of this new building is dining services: kitchen, servery and seating capacity,” Kash said. “We are still in the developmental phase of all the other possibilities with that.”
Even though the Heart of Campus are future plans, Chartwell’s has still been a part of the decision-making. “Chartwell’s has been in those discussions to help us imagine what that facility might be,” Kash said.
For now, it looks like Chartwell’s will be here for a while. “[It] makes sense to continue with Chartwell’s for an additional year,” said Kash, “especially as we continue to engage in discussions about renovation.”