NACAS South Drive-in Workshop

We southern folks are often ridiculed for our over-reaction to predicted cold weather. Sometimes it is warranted and other times not! Forty-one registrants tried their best to attend our drive-in workshop, and those who braved the “ice and snow” enjoyed our closed campus! Drive-in workshops are a necessary component of NACAS professional development.


We southern folks are often ridiculed for our over-reaction to predicted cold weather. Sometimes it is warranted and other times not! Forty-one registrants tried their best to attend our drive-in workshop, and those who braved the “ice and snow” enjoyed our closed campus! Drive-in workshops are a necessary component of NACAS professional development. They provide affordable learning and networking opportunities for attendees and are invaluable in showcasing innovations and successes on campus sites.

The University of Alabama (UA) enrollment has grown 72 percent in the past 10 years—from 20,969 in the fall of 2004 to 36,155 in the fall of 2014. This exponential growth has provided a wide array of challenges and successes to auxiliary services—none more so than dining services. From 12 locations in 2004, Bama Dining has expanded to 26 locations. During that same period, meal plan participation has grown from 2,340 to 9,000, and sales from $11 million to $39 million. Bama Dining is the University of Alabama’s exclusive dining service program employing 30 full-time managers and more than 700 hourly employees. For almost 20 years, UA and Bama Dining (Aramark) have enjoyed a mutually beneficial partnership.

To grow our quality dining program required creativity in oversight, careful collaboration with campus partners, and attention to every detail. Deb Tripp, leader of the higher education consumer research team who executes the MarketMATCH master planning system, explained the importance of consumer research in facilitating growth. “Food service is increasingly a deciding factor in prospective students’ enrollment. Today’s students demand value and have increasing demand for instant access and convenience. They are connecting more with school before ever set-ting foot on campus.” MarketMATCH enables dining services to link the mission and vision of the campus with customer demand by providing a blueprint for a plan based on comprehensive research and systematic study. With the findings, UA Dining Services, in collaboration with Aramark, developed a comprehensive plan on how to best grow services. Alabama was a pilot campus for MarketMATCH back in 2008 and just completed the process again this spring, this time specifically on retail components.

UA Construction Administration Assistant Vice President Tim Leopard summarized campus growth by presenting an overview of the $2 billion in facilities investments since 2003. In 2010, UA purchased 168 acres that formerly housed Bryce Hospital, the state mental hospital. An addition-al 118 acres were purchased in 2014. UA President Judy Bonner said these acquisitions would allow UA to devote the “immediate core of our campus” for student-centered activity and relocate auxiliary services such as grounds, fleet services, fuel services, garage services, and printing services. Dining services will use MarketMATCH research to best plan for the continuing food service growth on this additional acreage.

The summer of 2014 was a frenzy of activity for dining services construction and remodeling. The Fresh Food Company, an all-you-can-eat venue, was relocated from the Ferguson Student Union to a new free-standing building in the academic core of campus. The 50,000-square-foot facility seats 550 and was built at a cost of $15 million. On the night before the workshop, attendees enjoyed delicious food and fellowship provided by the Fresh Food Company staff.

With the relocation of the Fresh Food Company, the Ferguson Food Court was expanded and renovated at a cost of $6 million. Tim Leopard, along with Kristina Hopton-Jones, director of dining services; Daphne Wright, assistant food service contract administrator; and Ken Lamica, Aramark director of retail dining, presented a case study relating to the student union restaurant renovations. Wright was responsible for the planning and the timetable in collaboration with campus partners, which included:

 

Planning:

University Dining Services & Bama Dining

  • End of operations (specific date and time)
  • Removal of Muzak, telephone lines, cameras, televisions, and wireless access points
  • Removal of POS system
  • Removal of product in coolers, soda dispensers, small wares, equipment, and office furniture
  • Grease bin
  • Tables and chairs that will not be sold
  • Arrange Armstrong Moving Company with tentative dates

Construction Administration

  • Trash compactor
  • Fire extinguishers and Ansul systems

Logistical Support & Surplus Sales

  • Equipment Sale: Set dates; equipment specifications, pictures, publish bid

 

Presenters Tim Leopard, Ken Lamica, Kristina Hopton-Jones, and Daphne Wright.

Presenters Tim Leopard, Ken Lamica, Kristina Hopton-Jones, and Daphne Wright.

 

Time Table:

January 22-30, 2014

  • Begin coordination with logistical support and surplus sales
  • Gather a list of equipment for both locations
    • Equipment for sale and minimum bid amounts
    • Equipment to be moved off-site for future use
    • Equipment for recycling
  • Set critical dates
    • End of operations
      • Fresh Food – Friday, April 18 at 2 p.m.
      • Food Court – Friday, May 2 at 2 p.m.
    • Downtime to allow for utilities to be cut (4 hours after close)
    • Tentative days for buyer pick-up (three days for fresh food; two days for food court)
    • Stressful April pick-up dates (A-Day and Easter Sunday)
  • Schedule weekly meeting through remainder of project
    • 90 days from end of operations to opening of new facility

February 1-26, 2014

  • Set dates and times for potential bidders to view equipment in both location
  • Clear storage to make room for holding re-usable equipment
  • Assign PO to Armstrong Moving Company to hold tentative dates
    • Begin tagging all equipment with labels
  • Continue to add and edit items on bid and finalize copy for official bid
    • Over 400 pieces of equipment
  • Coordinate removal of Muzak, telephone lines, cameras, televisions, and wireless access points
  • Removal of POS systems (12)
    • Action Card to disconnect
    • Work order for movers to move
  • Coordinate removal of product in coolers, soda dispensers, small wares, and office furniture

March 1-30, 2014

  • Work in Small Buffalo Phil’s remodel at Burke
  • Photograph, label and number each item listed on final bid sheet
  • Surplus Sale PS2014-11
  • Configure separate bid for tables and chairs
  • Tag and label to distinguish keep vs. sell
  • Place work orders to disconnect utilities to all equipment
    • Food service maintenance – on duty during all hours of removal
    • Electrical
    • Plumbing
    • Health and safety – Fire extinguishers and Ansul systems
    • A/C for walk-ins (to be done last) and ice machines
    • Obtain Mullion key for doors
    • Arrange for grease bins on back dock to be removed
    • Arrange with trash vendor to remove compactor
    • Paperwork for equipment that sold or transferred for fixed assets

Summer

  • Set up all new locations in Sequoia Register System
    • Work directly with Action Card to set up Profit Center
    • Had Sequoia representative on-site for a week and first few operating days
    • Sequoia had upgrade during this register to set up phase
    • Dynamic routing was new to our campus but required by brands
    • Nine in old food court as one profit center/ 23 in new food court as six profit centers

While Wright was concerned with the pre-construction projects, Lamica was working with national brands. Three added concepts, Auntie Anne’s, Panda Express, and Wendy’s, were new to UA. Almost 300 new employees were hired, and staff was trained at various locations across the country. Hopton-Jones worked with UA Procurement on sole source requests as well as being the liaison with construction administration, architects, and contractors. All three worked closely to develop equipment lists while optimizing the previously used equipment. Challenges included equipment ordered versus equipment shipped, damaged equipment, and particular issues with data lines. Due to excellent planning, extensive collaboration, and a little luck, five new and/or renovated projects were completed before the first day of classes. Workshop attendees toured all five of these venues, as well as other auxiliary operations. An added bonus was a guided tour of Bryant-Denny stadium. The University of Alabama is considered a top-tier institution in dining services, and we were honored to host NACAS members from eight states.


Susan Herndon Caples, CASP
With 28 years of service at the University of Alabama, Susan Caples is the assistant director of transportation services overseeing fleet operations and fuel management. She is a graduate of Auburn University and received her master’s from the University of Alabama. Caples is a past president of NACAS South and former regional representative on the NACAS board of directors. She also served as president of Mortar Board, Inc. and is currently president-elect of the Tuscaloosa Rotary Club.

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