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The Renovation Game: Why the Revolving Door Won't Close.

The Renovation Game: Why the Revolving Door Won't Close.

Fred and Mary Ford Dining Court

Before Sarah Johnson, director of dining services at Purdue University Residences, embarked on the school's complete dining overhaul, dining services ran eleven dining and eight retail locations across campus.

It was a dizzying number of operations to manage and inefficient to operate. At the same time, students were growing increasingly vocal about their disappointment with the campus dining options.

Traditionally, there was a foodservice in every undergraduate residence hall. Students had to eat in the housing unit to which they were assigned. Menu choice was limited. Mealtimes were short and rigid.

Yet, with each incoming class, students expected more freedom of choice to eat what they wanted, when they wanted, wherever they wanted.

Looking at such trends, as well as the coming influx of new, even more demanding generations of students, Johnson embarked on an ambitious, decade-long plan that would

  • increase flexibility to respond to students' expectations in food choices and meal plans,
  • move away from the traditional institutional college cafeteria and provide food and service comparable to the commercial marketplace, and
  • consolidate operations to improve efficiency and manage costs at the most efficient levels.

The goal was to make food choice plentiful and accessible and dining areas more inviting, relaxing and contemporary. Branding, franchising, new preparation methods, display cooking and information technologies were envisioned as tools for creating this cutting edge environment.

What's more, the resulting food and ambiance would simultaneously serve as a valuable asset to the institution itself.

"Students are accustomed to eating in restaurants," says Johnson. "The focus of today's customer is on quality and choices in food, hours and locations."

Purdue Dining's successful implementation of this project and the impressive execution that exists there today has earned the university FM's Best of Show Award.

Map It Out
Dining services drafted a roadmap and masterplan in 1995. A key part of the plan was the goal of consolidating the eleven dining and eight retail locations into a series into 10 vibrant, contemporary dining courts and retail operations. These new facilities, built in stages over a number of years (the last will open in 2008), not only give Purdue students a wide choice of contemporary dining options, but also offer the university a high-profile, on-campus amenity that will help it compete for the most promising future students.

The way dining services wrestled with— and trumped—space and cost pressures over the course of the as-yet-unfinished project, serves as an effective model for colleges and universities looking to position themselves to serve today's and tomorrow's campus customers.

"This is the most extensive overhaul of our dining facilities the school has ever undertaken and much of it was the direct result of student input," says Johnson.

Throughout the process dining services solicited student input through focus groups and surveys, benchmarked with similar universities and considered a variety of alternatives.

"We found that students wanted choices and didn't mind traveling a reasonable distance to access those choices," says Johnson.

When the project is complete in 2008, Purdue will have five dining locations and five retail locations. Of the five dining locales, one is existing, two are renovations and two are freestanding new buildings.

"In Purdue's case, less is considerably more," says Johnson.

Roll With the Punches
Unfolding over an eight-year period, the masterplan was designed as a flexible outline slated for adjustment as renovations and new constructions were completed.

For example, it initially called for a renovation of the dining facilities in Cary Quadrangle. When structural constraints and cost limitations precluded remodeling Cary, the plan changed. Plans for a brand new freestanding facility—Fred and Mary Ford Dining Court—were substituted (see pg. 46).

In addition to structural changes, menus and management systems evolved and changed as dining services moved forward.

"We used a 'Dining in your Neighborhood' concept that coordinated our menus," says Kathleen Manwaring, assistant director of dining services.

"As we progressed, we began experimenting with the length of menu cycles through this program. We introduced specialty lines to test new concepts before adding them to new and renovated facilities and new recipes were added daily."

The rapidly changing menu concepts combined with the renovation rollout became the springboard to a new and improved system.

"Everyone has learned a great deal," says Johnson. "A masterplan is not something that is set in stone. In our case, it has to continue to evolve and improve as we move from one phase to the next."

Funding and the Future
As a self-supporting auxiliary enterprise of the university, University Residences operates solely on the income received from customers' room and board plus other revenue generated from summer conferences. No student is required by the university to live in university residences. (At the same time, with the exception of the undergraduate apartments, students who choose to live on campus must participate in the meal plan.)

"All projects in The Master Plan were funded by sale of bonds, repaid with accumulated savings from consolidation and increased efficiency of operations over the eight-year period," says Johnson.

The point, she adds, is that beyond a typical, annual room and board rate increase, students will not realize any additional rate increase to pay for the project.

"We can change, and we have to change," says Johnson. "In order to maintain high standards, we have to adjust and refocus on what our customers expect."

Earhart Dining Court

Once a traditional cafeteria and student lounge, this newly renovated marketplace-style dining court is based on an all-you-care-to-eat model. Food is freshly prepared in small batch quantities, or cooked to order.

Though it's forecasted volume was 23,000 meals per week it served 35,000 in its first year of operation, as the only new dining facility on campus. That number has decreased by about 2% as additional dining facilities have opened; Earhart currently serves about 34,000 meals per week.

$7.8 million project
39,100 gross square feet
12,250 square feet of dining space
6,900 square feet in preparation and serving areas
3,620 square feet of kitchen and dishwashing space
Seating for 720 is accommodated in five dining areas

Featured Food Stations:
Classics— American comfort foods
The Gallery—Showcasing
cuisines from around the world (Students select ingredients and the food is stir fried to order.)
Waffles, etc.—Freshly made waffles and a variety of cereals
The Pastry Shop—Fresh
pastries, pies, and baked items
Totally Italian—Students
select ingredients for pizza and pasta casserole that are passed through a conveyor oven.
Salad Spot—Offering an assortment of greens, fruit and vegetable salads
The Granite Grill—Grilled
and fried foods, including hamburgers, chicken, French fries and sandwich items

Hillenbrand Dining Court

"Since Hillenbrand opened in 1993, it didn't need a major renovation. A simple facelift made the space look considerably more up to date," says Johnson.

The 12-year-old all-you-care-to-eat dining facility now boasts a unique design that blends the updated and traditional components into a comprehensive facility. Seating for 500 is accommodated in two dining areas.

$150,000 project
18,000 gross square feet
8,000 square feet of dining space
3,460 square feet in preparation and serving areas
5,500 square feet of kitchen and dishwashing space

Featured Food Stations
Heartland Classics—American comfort foods
3rd Street Grill—Create
your own omelet (breakfast), grilled sandwiches, gourmet burgers, fries, specialty chicken items.
Creation Station—Create your own rice and noodle bowl or quesadilla. Italian,Asian, fish, south of the border, and nacho bar are offered for select days of the week.Thursday dinner features a 2 swipe steak option.
Good Grief, Grains!—Cereal
Stack it Up Deli—Create
your own sandwich, toasted subs available
Leaf n Ladle—An
assortment of greens, fruit & vegetable salads, and homemade soups. Specialty salads featured daily.
Temptations—Luscious, homemade desserts. Create your own sundae, Sunday bar.

Fred and Mary Ford Dining Court

The Fred and Mary Ford Dining Court is the first freestanding dining facility built under The Master Plan. It blends contemporary with traditional features.

"The exterior design acts as a transition between two campus architectural eras", says Johnson,"It is situated between the traditional Cary Quadrangle, built from 1927 to 1940, and Owen Hall, built in 1957."

Seating for 800 is accommodated on two levels and includes booths and banquettes. Counter and cafè style seating throughout the servery add to its "eater-tainment" value.

$18,054,000 project
62,325 gross square feet
12,750 square feet of dining space
5,100 square feet in preparation and serving areas
6,775 square feet of kitchen and dishwashing space

Feature Food Stations:
Parmesan Tomato—Featuring a wide selection of hearth-baked pizza
Southeast Asian style dishes from across the seas
Pot·to Pot‰to—A
buffet of entrees, hot vegetables, and carved meats, "a little piece of home"
Thyme Square—A
variety of greens, fresh vegetables, fruit, and homemade soups
Legal Grease—An assortment of hot entrees and side dishes, including Black Angus hamburgers, grilled chicken breasts, and awesome fries
Salami & Swiss—Create
your own sandwich, showcasing international wraps and made-to-order entrèe salads
Sugar Hill—Homemade
cookies, fresh baked pies, cakes, and handdipped ice creams with toppings

Windsor Dining Court

Windsor Dining Court combines the former Warren Dining Room and the former Vawter Dining Room, with a new space created in the courtyard area between the two buildings. Over the course of the renovation, the classic English Tudor architecture of the Windsor Halls was maintained.

Windsor's new contemporary menu features a range of international, vegetarian and vegan cuisines. Seating for 500 is spread over three dining areas.

$11,970,000 project
26,150 gross square feet
7,400 square feet of dining space
5,300 square feet in preparation and serving areas
4,300 square feet of kitchen and dishwashing space

Featured Food Stations:
Abby Road Deli—Sandwiches your way with fresh sliced meats and cheeses. Heat it on a panini grill and select a homemade soup.
Soho Market—Sample
the cuisines of Africa, the Caribbean, India, Italy, Mexico, the Mediterranean and the Middle East. Each day features a different region.
Portobello Road—Vegetarian and vegan items from around the globe.
Piccadilly Square—Soft serve, sundae toppings, cereal, fruit toppings and waffles available throughout the day.
Regent Grill—Char-grilled burgers with a variety of toppings; or, select from daily menued items, hot vegetables and other sides.
Chelsea Garden—Classic salad greens, toppers, fruits, breads and spreads. A different sizzling hot salad topper is featured daily.
Devonshire Way—Freshly
baked cookies, pastries and sweet treats.

Harrison Grille & The Knight Spot Grill at Cary

"There is a growing trend in university dining services to provide students a wider range of eating options available throughout the day," says Ernest Poland, director of university residences.

The newly revamped Harrison Grille is a late-night quick-service restaurant located adjacent to the front office on the main floor of Harrison Hall. Customers can enjoy the varied menu while watching one of four flat-screen plasma TVs.

The Knight Spot Grill at Cary will feature a selection of daily specials from the grill, hot dogs, nachos, milk shakes, sandwiches and salads, and pizza by the slice or the whole pie. The grill is conveniently located on the east side of the Quad.

Harrison Grille
$1,000,000 project
1,460 square feet in preparation and serving areas
3,000 square feet of kitchen and dishwashing space
2,600 square feet of seating area
Hours: M-Th, Sun: 4:00 pm-1:00 am Fri-Sat: 4:00 pm-2:00 am

The Knight Spot Grill at Cary
$1,000,000 project
1,300 square feet in preparation, serving areas, kitchen and dishwashing space
2,000 square feet of seating area
Hours: M-Th, Sun: 4:00 pm-1:00 am Fri-Sat: 4:00 pm-2:00 am

On the Go!

23.2% of all meals served on campus

In and out, just like it's designed to be. For students who don't have the time to sit in a dining court, there is On the Go!—a quick, convenient, full meal, carry-out alternative that requires one meal swipe, and which proved to be an instant success.

Here's how it works: In any of the three OTG locations—Earhart, Ford or Windsor—students can pick 5 total items (1 entrèe and 4 other items). Every food and drink component counts as an item.

Continuously available choices include cereal bowls, juice, yogurt, bagels and fresh fruit. Hot and cold sandwiches, soup, side salads, chips, pudding cups, juicy gels, dried fruit, hummus with pita bread, chips and other prepackaged desserts are available throughout the day. Breakfast sandwiches, burgers, and other hot sandwiches are available at respective meal times.

Meredith Hall houses a central production kitchen where cold menu items are produced in mass for delivery to the three locations. Each location averages 1500 meals per day Mon-Thurs, with numbers doubled on Fri (OTG is closed Sat.-Sun.).

When Purdue introduced On the Go!, there were concerns that a grabandgo meal alternative might work against the sense of community that is so important to the campus' living, learning environment.

"It is important not to lose the sense of community that comes from dining together.," says Kathleen Manwaring, assistant director of dining services. "On the Go! fosters a new outlet for community. We see students walking to class eating an On the Go! sandwich or with their friends in the spring enjoying a picnic outside the halls. On the Go! allows students to eat meals together in nontraditional locations.

"Retail Operations are thriving and students enjoy the larger number of choices that are now available."

The Food Service Master Plan

Phase I
May 2000
5 The Master Plan Project began with the permanent closing of McCutcheon food service and grill.

Phase II
May 2001 through August 2003
5 Earhart food service closed for renovation to become Earhart Dining Court
5 Earhart Dining Court opened on April 14, 2003
5 Shreve food service closed permanently in

May 2003
5 Hillenbrand Hall dining opened in August 2003 as the reconfigured Hillenbrand Dining Court

Phase III
January 2003 through August 2004
5 Construction began February 24, 2003 on Ford Dining Court.
5 Cary Quad dining and Owen hall dining close permanently in spring of 2004 with the completion of Ford Dining Court, which opened August 2,2004
5 A central production kitchen opened in August 2004 to supply packaged sandwiches and salads for On the Go! and retail locations

Phase IV
May 2003 through August 2005
5 Warren-Vawter halls dining closed for renovation in May 2003 to become Windsor Dining Court on August 3, 2005.
5 Meredith hall dining closed permanently in May 2005 upon completion of Windsor Dining Court.
5 Harrison Hall dining closed in December 2004 Harrison Grille is converted to a retail operation. It expanded and moved upstairs to the dining space during the summer of 2005. Harrison Grille reopened on October 11, 2005

Phase V
May 2004 through August 2008
5 Wiley Hall dining closed for renovation in May 2004 to become Wiley Dining Court in summer 2008
5 Tarkington Hall dining will close permanently upon completion of Wiley Dining Court.
5 Cary Grill closed in May 2005 for remodeling as part of South Hall II renovation and will reopen as The Cary Knight Spot Grill in August 2006.

The Project Team: Purdue—E. Michael Warden (architect and project manager), John A. Sautter (Vice President, Housing and Food Services), Tim Gennett (Director, University Residences), Kathleen Manwaring (Assistant Director of Dining Services), Karen Glebe (Dining Court Manager, Hillenbrand), Barbara Maughmer (Dining Court Manager, Ford), Tim Meyer (Dining Court Manager, Earhart), Roberta Thomas (Dining Court Manager, Windsor); Claudia Scotty, Envision Strategies (foodservice masterplan); Ricca Newmark Design (interior/foodservice design)—Kathleen Seelye (partner and foodservice design president), Al Moller (principal), Amy Vance (interior designer); Scholer Corporation (architect)—Steven J. Gloyeske (president), Stephen E. Goffinet (principal)

Destination 10: Standards + Accountability = Excellence

(l. to r.) Barbara Maughmer, Ha Tran (production chef, Ford), Kathleen Manwaring, Patricia Berger (assistant dining court manager), Sarah Johnson

With all of the changes a major renovation project entails, how does a dining department keep staff involved in ensuring that change is for the better? At Purdue, part of the answer was the introduction of a quality improvement program called Destination 10.

Developed by Don Miller. R.D., CEC (aka "Chef Don"), D10 has grown from a strategic framework with inspirational thoughts and philosophies to include Mystery Shoppers, Staff Dining Meal Evaluations, D10 Meetings, Dining Unit Self Evaluations, Daily Food Tasting, and more, says Kathleen Manwaring, assistant director of dining services.

D10 offers tools and procedures that have helped to enhance everything residential dining services does.

"Our employees have so much more involvement with the customers now and more ownership in reaching new goals and standards," says Manwaring.

Goals & Objectives of the D10 process:

  • To produce food and service at the 10 level in quality, 100% of the time.
  • To create and maintain standards for quality food and service that are followed 100% of the time.
  • To simplify the workload, if necessary, in order to achieve D10 goals and objectives.
  • To promote and foster teamwork.
  • To maintain a positive work environment where employees are proud to be a member of the team.
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