By Julia Friedman
David Gaul began his job as the General Manager of Dining Services last March, leaving his previous position of thirteen years as Operations Manager at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.
As General Manager, Gaul is responsible for overseeing all dining operations on campus including menus in the dinning halls, concessions, catering and vending, among others.
“I think the most interesting part about being here is the fact that Union seems to be a family oriented campus,” responds Gaul when asked about his experience at Union so far. “There’s a lot of pride and ownership of belonging or working for the school. It’s very evident when you talk with people.”
Since Gaul came to Union just a few short months ago, many changes in the dining program have been made and there are still many more to come.
By this point in the term, many are acutely aware of some of these changes, including the acceptance of credit cards at dining halls and other food venues on campus and the new to-go program in Upper Dining, but Dining Services has plenty more cooking.
Although many of the projects currently underway cannot be revealed just yet, Gaul was kind enough to share a few secrets.
Perhaps the most exciting of these is the new dining option that will be located in Reamer where Starbucks and Freshens once reigned.
“I can’t reveal what will happen with the new Freshens,” says Gaul. “But we’re investigating new options and with later hours.” Many students were upset to see the fro-yo go, so here’s hoping that we’re moving on to bigger and better.
“We’re also currently looking at making dramatic changes to the offerings in Rathskellar, which will be a summer project for next year,” explains Gaul. The details of this project were not divulged.
Changes to the menus in the dining halls are another thing to look forward to for next term, including more “action stations,” which are made-to-order options such as carved meat and sushi.
“We’re also 90% of the way as far as a new online application called ‘Manage My ID,’ so you can make deposits for declining, check your balance, block a lost or stolen card, and have friends or family add declining as a gift.” Gaul hopes to have this convenient new tool available for next term.
“Technology will play a huge role when it comes to changes in dining on campus,” shares Gaul. “We’ve talked about a potential express service, walk-up or online kiosks available online and on smart phones to pre-order.”
New additions to the catering program will also be implemented next year and will be beneficial for student clubs and organizations, which operate on strict budgets. “[The menu] will have more options like loaded potato skins, nacho bars, sliders, basic barbeques and fondue. It’s a small menu, but it’s more economical and was developed with students in mind.”
In fact, all of the changes being made in dining services were developed with the students in mind. “Anything we do is done by fact-based decision making and how we do that is by talking with students, having discussion groups and surveys,” explains Gaul. “That’s how we build and improve for the future.”
If you have ideas of how to improve the dining experience at Union, you can stop by the Dining Services office located on the second floor of Reamer next to Upper Dining.