When Zia Ahmed arrived in Columbus in 2010, Ohio State was a campus in transition. A retail revival was underway that Ahmed has continued to drive, but his focus also turned to revamping the traditional dining halls in anticipation of a 2016 requirement that second-year students live on campus. Ahmed and Ohio State have been a picture of innovation.
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When Zia Ahmed arrived in Columbus as Ohio State’s senior director of dining services in 2010, the $118-million Ohio Union had just opened. The Union Market pictured here is the top dining venue on campus, generating more than $6 million in revenue a year.
Ohio State dining services’ senior leadership team poses in the conference room at their new offices, left to right: Kathie Serif, Associate Director of Operations; Eric Stucke, Business Manager; Lesa Holford, Associate Director of Culinary; Zia Ahmed, Senior Director of Dining Services; Tim Keegstra, Associate Director of Facilities; and Abby Hertzfeld, Associate Director of Operations.
The 150-seat full-service Sloopy’s Diner recently expanded its weekend hours to 3 a.m. and can be staffed by as many as 11 student servers during its busiest times.
The Archie Griffin Ballroom at the Ohio Union can seat well over 1,000 and provides a first-class venue for university and non-university groups.
Chefs show off their school pride at the Culinary Test Kitchen located on the first floor of the Ohio Union. The space is used for training, menu development and events.
Traditions at Kennedy, one of the university’s three dining halls, reopened after a $12.5 million renovation in 2011.
Rahul Ponappa shows off plenty of grab-and-go options available at 12th Avenue Bread Company, a quick-service outlet that debuted at the new Traditions at Kennedy. Roasted Brussels sprouts are proof of students’ changing tastes and the university’s commitment to healthy food options.
Limited time only menu items debuted this past school year and quicky became a favorite of students and chefs. Ramy Farid, manager of Mirror Lake Creamery & Grill, stands next to his special offerings in April. Mirror Lake was the university’s first retail dining outlet in 1999.
The Marketplace on Neil generates $5 million of revenue a year and this stone-hearth oven cooks up more than 300 pizzas a day, according to manager Robert Hayes.
Crane Café is one of several coffee shops on campus managed by Kathy Grant. Berry Café at Thompson Library generates $2 million in revenue a year by itself.
The Culinary Production Kitchen opened this January and Ahmed is aggressively ramping up its production in preparation for 2016 when second-year students are required to live on campus, upping Ohio State’s residential population by more than 25 percent.