UR Dining Services changed management early this year when Christopher Coleman took over as Resident District Manager for ARAMARK. Coleman is the direct overseer of all Dining Services on campus. Since his arrival, he has been involved in the development of several new programs.
Coleman’s previous role with ARAMARK was as a district supervisor at the University of Pennsylvania. He joined ARAMARK in May, and received the offer to come to UR in September. “Within two weeks [of getting the offer], I was on campus,” Coleman said.
Coleman previously worked for the Marriott Hotel chain, and was with them for 12 years. There, he was able to generate high sales in vending, straight sales and fee-based contracts. He recieved his degree from the Culinary Institute of America.
Coleman was excited about coming to UR for several reasons. The first benefit that he mentioned is that all operations are consolidated between the River Campus and Eastman. “You can see all your business at one time,” Coleman said. Coleman’s job with Marriott required up to 40,000 driving miles per year.
The second benefit is that UR is considered by ARAMARK to be one of their most valuable accounts. It is one of the campuses held to the company’s highest standards, and ARAMARK hopes to launch new accounts based on their operations here.
Coleman came to UR hearing good things about it from both corporate headquarters and from students. After several “Dine with the Director” sessions, Coleman says that he has the impression that students are, on the whole, satisfied with ARAMARK and that services have been improving each year.
Changes have been made this year throughout Dining Services. Coleman said he is still looking for more ideas from students and wants to plan more ARAMARK-sponsored programs in order to pursue “constant improvement.”
The largest change has been in personnel and customer services. The “WOW” program encourages students to comment on good customer service so employees can be rewarded. Also, employees are going through additional customer service and safety training.
“Everyone who the customer interacts with is going to be involved in this training,” Coleman said, adding that “this wasn’t the case before.”
On Wednesday, Coleman left for Boston to join other UR Dining Service managers in a conference titled, “Restaurant Food on Campus.”
Small changes have been made to Danforth Dining Center already this year. Among these have been consolidating breakfast serving lines, playing classical music during dining hours and adding some new cooking equipment.
Most students in Danforth did not notice anything different. “There’s been changes?” junior Pam Sheffield asked. She added that while she doesn’t particularly like Danforth, “I don’t know how they’re going to change it.”
Some have noticed one or two changes and thought them to be positive. “I did like how they have the new [George Foreman] grill,” freshman Alison St. John said.
The last goal that Coleman is pursuing is adding and improving special events at the university. Gene Kellogg, a dining consultant hired by the university, told Coleman that UR already has more events than almost any other campus, and Coleman hopes to promote these events better than they have been in the past.
Students that have attended these events have appreciated them. “I like all the events they’re doing, like the Salsa Dinner,” junior Greg Owsley said.
University Dining Services and Student Activities plan on bringing internationally known singer and dancer Chester Mahooty along with other Native American dancers to campus on Nov. 7.
Brown can be reached at email@example.com.