In February, Duquesne University launched an experimental food delivery service that made the entire food and soft drink menu of the school’s Red Ring Bar & Grille available to all campus residence halls Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
“What we decided was, to try to build engagement while also enhancing sale opportunities, we would capitalize on the delivery trend and borrow some sales opportunities away from GrubHub,” explains Dave Manz, resident district manager for management company Parkhurst Dining Services, which operates dining on the Duquesne campus. “Students can use their meal plans, flex and plus dollars to call down to the Ring and we deliver to the residence halls. We have 3,300 students on campus as our resident population.”
Delivery to residence halls is now available from Duquesne’s Red Ring restaurant. (Photos: Parkhurst/Duquesne Dining)
Red Ring is a full-service restaurant that specializes in providing seasonally rotating scratch-made dishes utilizing locally sourced meats and produce. The current menu includes a mix of appetizers (mozzarella sticks, chicken tenders, poutine, etc.), burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, wings, nachos and desserts. Housemade mac ‘n cheese dishes (poutine, four-cheese, Buffalo chicken) are a specialty.
The layout of the Duquesne campus has its residential area located on a bluff, with Red Ring right at its foot, something that made the restaurant a natural source of convenient, quickly delivered food.
“With the weather being so temperamental at this time,” offers Kathryn Lavelle, marketing manager for Duquesne University Dining Services, “it encourages students to use the [service] and get some of the menu items even if they don’t feel like walking down.”
And what have they been ordering?
“The arugula [with red and green apple, walnut, feta, dried cranberry and an apple vinaigrette] and butternut squash [with mixed greens, roasted butternut squash, pickled onion, Parmesan, candied pecan and champagne vinaigrette] salads are big favorites,” Manz says. “They are nice, healthy, trendy items.”
Meat eaters love Red Ring’s hand-pressed, housemade burgers, Manz adds. These come in several signature formulations, such as the Farmer Burger (topped with bacon, cheese curd, arugula, bacon hash and a fried egg on a brioche bun) and the BBQ Burger (topped with bacon, lettuce, red onion, pickle, American cheese and honey barbecue sauce on a brioche bun).
Delivery orders currently are phoned in and then delivered together in half-hour blocks by a designated staffer. Manz says this is just the start of a more robust program.
“We have a strategic plan that over the next three years we’ll be enhancing mobile ordering and delivery,” he says. “This is our first step into that.”
This roasted butternut squash salad has been a delivery hit. It is composed of mixed greens, roasted butternut squash, pickled onion, Parmesan, candied pecan and champagne vinaigrette.
This first foray was prompted by a recognition of current realities, notes Lavelle.
“Delivery is a growing trend that we’re seeing on college campuses,” she says. “We see students all the time ordering food to be delivered to them while they’re in the Union and different places. Uber Eats just started in Pittsburgh, and there’s [already] GrubHub, and we found that especially in the colder months, students just don’t want to leave their residence halls, so this is bringing an opportunity to them where they can use their meal flex and dining dollars without having to walk and get some unique menu items they can’t get in the residence dining halls.”
“We really wanted an opportunity to grow engagement with our undergraduate students who are residents,” Manz adds. “We also wanted them to enjoy the Red Ring, because it is the type of facility designed more for graduate students and alumni, but we wanted it to be more a part of the everyday campus experience. This was something we saw as a really strong window to making it more a part of the student dining experience in a convenient way.”