Major renovations that shutter existing dining venues during a school year are an occasional necessity but always a headache for campus dining operators. So it is at the University of Mississippi (Ole Miss) in Oxford, where the Student Union is undergoing extensive remodeling work this spring that has shut down that venue’s dining outlets.
Not to worry, though, because the campus dining department, which is managed by Aramark, has come up with several novel alternatives.
One of them might be termed “From Russia With Love (or at least pepperoni…)”
“We wanted to give students another dining option on campus and we really like their product,” says Amy Greenwood, marketing coordinator for Ole Miss Dining Services.
Starting with the return to classes in early January, Dodo has set up shop in a corner of Weir Hall, an academic building housing the information technology offices, classrooms and labs that also happens to be fairly centrally located in the heart of the Ole Miss campus.
The space has access to a kitchenette equipped with a sink, warming cabinet and drink coolers, but the actual pizza production is done at Dodo’s off-campus location and the pies are transported over.
Students can use their flex and Express dollars from their meal plans to purchase either whole pies or slices. The menu at the on-campus location is limited to four of the more popular choices (cheese, pepperoni, supreme and a daily special). Hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. currently but may be extended depending on demand.
“We’re really happy to have them, we’ve had a great reaction from students, so so far so good,” Greenwood offers.
Dodo is not the only addition to the Ole Miss campus dining mix this semester to help alleviate the shortfall caused by the temporary closing of the Student Union. Ole Miss is also deploying what Greenwood says is the first branded Chick-fil-A food truck that incorporates production equipment such as fryers, allowing food to be made fresh onboard.
It temporarily substitutes for a Chick-fil-A unit in the Student Union that was shuttered due to the renovation work. The truck offers a condensed version of the chain’s menu that does include its popular sandwiches and waffle fries.
A third temporary addition to the dining mix is one of Aramark’s proprietary P.O.D. (Provisions on Demand) mobile food carts, which will offer grab-and-go items and packaged beverages.
The Student Union renovations of the dining operations are expected to be completed by the start of the fall 2017 semester. New dining outlets expected to be added to the Union’s mix at that time include Aramark proprietary McAllister’s soup/salad/sandwich concept, a unit of the Which Wich sandwich chain and a larger Chick-fil-A station with an expanded menu and multiple points of service.