Gourmet Dining, LLC to Replace Aramark Food Services at MU

After almost 40 years of service, Aramark will be replaced by Gourmet Dining, LLC as the University’s new food service provider on or before July 1, 2015. Improvements to all dining facilities on campus are expected to be completed over the course of the next 18 months. 

A committee of administrators from several offices on campus, including Student Life and Leadership Engagement, Residential Life, Finance, Athletics, and Conferences Services, among others, reviewed the Requests For Proposal (RFPs) sent to the University by various food providers. 

The committee made campus visits and reference calls as a way to further understand the strengths and weaknesses of each food provider. 

There were also two students from the Student Government Association (SGA) who helped the committee reach their final decision.

The University received RFPs from Sodexo, Parkhurst Dining, Gourmet, and Aramark, the incumbent. The committee deliberated for nine months before deciding that Gourmet would be the best fit for the University’s campus.

Gourmet is a New Jersey-based family business that has been operating in higher education dining for almost 30 years, explained Michael Frungillo, the company’s President. 

According to their website, Gourmet’s mission is “to provide exemplary and unique dining experience for each client built on strong professional and personal relationships.” The company is also committed to meeting the continuously evolving, dynamic dining needs of their clients.

“Gourmet had an outstanding program for our residential dining hall that was innovative, creative, and had the type of foods our students want,” said Mary Anne Nagy, Vice President for Student Life and Leadership Engagement. 

“Their service and commitment to customer service was also outstanding,” she added.

Nagy sent out a school-wide email on Friday, March 13 notifying students and staff of this upcoming change in dining services. 

In the email, Nagy explained that Gourmet “will increase the quality of the dining experience by providing more choices, including fresh sushi, brick oven pizza, carving stations, organic steamed meals, fresh-baked items, and more.” 

She continued by stating that there will be allergy and gluten-free stations in Magill Commons under the management of Gourmet, and that the company will also provide the campus with a registered dietician who will be able to assist students, faculty and staff when it comes to making healthy dietary decisions.

The email also confirmed that a full-service Dunkin Donuts will be replacing what is now Grill Works in the Rebecca Stafford Student Center (RSSC). 

Some students who are planning on graduating within the next year or two are sad that this change has not been made sooner, while others are really looking forward to this addition to the University’s dining facilities. 

“Dunkin coming to campus is a beautiful game changer,” said Alyssa Healey, a junior health studies major.

Frungillo explained that some of the other impending updates to the RSSC food court include the addition of Fortes Pizza, Grill Nation, and enhanced salad and Mexican concepts, as well. Jersey Mike’s will remain in business.

Regardless of the upcoming changes coming to the dining facilities on campus, the meal plan options will remain the same. 

The cost of each will increase slightly, but with the addition of Gourmet’s food services to the University’s campus, students will be able to use their meal plan at Shadows rather than having to use only declining dollars or cash.

“I think students will love the plan and the many options Gourmet will provide. This is a protein, not filler-based, dining experience. They focus on fresh, made from scratch food ” said Nagy. 

Many students are excited about the upcoming change. Kelly Parks, a junior business administration major, said, “The new food and beverage services are not only essential to our college survival, but will help the campus as a whole be more appealing to new students.”

Kaylie Mazza, a sophomore history major, was one of the SGA students who helped the committee of adminstrators throughout the decision making process. She was able to sit in on all of the different presentations and even try all of the free samples from each food provider. “It was a great experience,” Mazza said. 

Reflecting on the 39-year-old  dining partnership at the University, Karen Cutler, Director of Corporate Communications at Aramark, said, “Aramark very much values the contributions of our employees and we are particularly proud of the service they have provided at Monmouth.”

“I think you are going to see a lot more students happy with the dining. Everyone should be excited for this change because it’s something that was much needed and well worth it,” she added.