“If you can’t do something authentic, don’t call it authentic,” noted Nick Salvgani, Director of Marketing for Higher Education Division of American Dining and Interim Director of Campus Engagement Union College during an interview.
The college was on lookout since last spring to hire a new food company for dining services across campus. Usually, the college outsources food companies but this time around desired a company that would blend in with the Union community and its core values.
“Our agenda is to drive the Union experience on student, faculty and staff feedback and ensure that we provide everyone what they want – how they want,” said Chip Mecca, Director of Dining Services Union College.
Chip asserted that the goal was to make it to the top 20 colleges nationally and further pushed that it wasn’t just a goal for his team and company but was a reason to build a model for cutting edge dining services across a college campus.
Salvgani stated, “With our commitment to hospitality and culinary excellence, our goal is to provide you with a dining program equal to your sterling reputation. Our primary focus will always rest, first and foremost, with delivering an outstanding experience to our guests. With this in mind, our program enhancements begin with the institution of customized dining concepts.”
The slightly renovated Upperclass Dining Hall features nine new concepts that include: Chef U, the marketplace, Cucina Perfetta, Elements, Greens & Grains, American Signature Deli, Breakfast Bar and Hydration Station.
Dutch Hollow has also been introduced to a few new concepts. These include: Sabores Frescos, Saute & Sizzle, Dutchmen’s Deli, Homestyle Café, Ushi Sushi, Bountiful Harvest, Savory Spoon, Fresh Express and Decadent Desserts.
West Dining Hall has seen a revamped omelet bar and a self-serviced smoothie bar. Akshay Kashyap ’18 remarks that the smoothie bar is immensely popular among students and many are happy with its perfomrance.
College Park Hall kiosk is in full service this year – the only addition being that it will be open with self-service 24 hours a day, Monday through Friday. The kiosk accepts both declining balance and debit and credit cards. Run on an honor system, the kiosk is not manned by Dining Services personnel.
O3 café features a variety of organic and locally sourced ingredients to design fresh salads, artisan sandwiches with in season varieties of toppings and accompaniments.
Mecca also stated that flexible culinary themes and stations will play host to a constant variety of rotating dining features to avoid menu and concept fatigue. This will include an “international station” with rotating special features focusing on Indian, Southeast Asian, Japanese, European and Mediterranean recipes.
Earlier in the summer, the company bought several local coffee companies for a campus-wide coffee tasting before formally hiring a coffee company. According to Salvgani, it was greatly appreciated by students and faculty alike.
Shedding light on student, faculty and staff feedback, both Mecca and Salvgani immensely appreciated the positive feedback and help from everyone in ensuring the company established itself firmly.
They said, “Every college campus across the country is unique; we knew we had to adapt to Union quickly after setting foot on campus. Luckily, the student body and the administration was extremely polite, respectful and the best across the 30 schools we’ve worked with in the past. Everyone was open, responsive and trusted us to deliver, which was something phenomenal to experience.”
Salvgani further noted, “It’s been challenging to develop these programs blindfolded in a short piece of time. However, the campus community is easily one of the best partners. From facilities to the administration to the students, everyone is amazing and wants each other to succeed. There is a sense of true community mindedness across campus here.”