Oct. 1, 2009
CONTACT: Gordon Ovenshine:
Boozel earns Dining Hall of Distinction honor
SLIPPERY ROCK, Pa. - Slippery Rock University's Boozel Dining Hall has been named a runner-up in University Business magazine's Dining Halls of Distinction recognition program and will be featured in this month's edition. Only 12 dining halls nationwide were selected. The program honors excellence in all aspects of operations, including variety of entrees, satisfaction, atmosphere and sustainability.
Melissa Ezarik, managing editor, cited Boozel's open-kitchen concept, takeout options and bright atrium as standout amenities. Boozel serves 3,500 meals daily.
"The judges liked the focus on staff development, which includes an annual culinary camp and quarterly culinary councils that chefs attend to network and learn about the latest marketplace innovations. We were also impressed by the use of a mystery shopper program as a way to ensure good customer service," Ezarik said.
Three editors, the magazine's art director, a recent college graduate, a graduate student and Neal Raisman, a higher education consultant and former college president, evaluated dining operations at institutions across the country. Four winners and eight runners-up were selected. Boozel will be profiled in the October edition of the magazine.
"We're one of 12 in the country to be honored. There is a sense of pride and accomplishment, and it is good to know that our hard work and effort in planning the program got recognized, not just by students, but by a national magazine," said John Vag, director of AVI Foodsystems, SRU's contracted food vendor.
Vag said the mystery shopper program involves an independent audit of Boozel operations. AVI hires a third-party vendor to grade the facility on food quality, appearance, display, and courteousness of staff and customer impression.
The 36,500-square-foot dining hall opened in 1971 but was renovated last year to accommodate the increased number of students dining at the facility due to its convenient proximity to the six new suite-style residential halls in the eastern end of campus.
Workers installed eight food stations with open kitchens, a 3,000-square-foot glass atrium entrance and added lounge seating and a grab-n-go meal station in the lobby. The redesign made use of bright colors, including red and copper, reflecting an increased interest in ethnic food and trends toward healthy eating as well as the technology interests of students. A live-fire Brazilian Churrasco food station is one of the first on a college campus and has been a solid hit with students.
Boozel incorporates a number of sustainability or "greening" programs and building design elements, Vag said. The building was designed to allow as much natural light as possible. It uses lights that shut off when they are not in use and low-flow faucets.
AVI also partners with SRU's Robert A. Macoskey Center for Sustainable Systems Education and Research facility. The center composts pre-consumer vegetable waste and melon rinds from the dining hall. AVI partners with western Pennsylvania farmers to purchase local vegetables and obtains its fall apples from Dawson's Orchards in Enon Valley, Vag said.
In an effort to offer students a greener option, AVI has also partnered with the University to offer Eco-Clam Shells for take-out dining. Use of Eco-Clam Shells has reduced the estimated 300 Styrofoam containers currently used per day, or 48,000 annually that are sent to the landfill, Vag said.
Boozel serves an average of 300 people a day for breakfast, 1,700 for lunch and 1,500 for dinner. They are not all students. "One of the great things we have noticed is there are a lot of faculty and staff coming in," Vag said. "There are a lot of groups holding morning meetings at Boozel. It has created a greater sense of community. We have a lot of community customers who are regulars."
Boozel has received other honors since SRU completed the renovation. In June, the dining facility captured the American School and University Magazine's Educational Interiors Showcase Outstanding Design Award in the cafeteria/food service areas category.
University Business is a magazine of business and technology solutions for higher education, reaching virtually every two- and four-year college in the United States. For a look at all the winners and runner-ups, check out the October issue of University Business, which is available in its entirety online at www.universitybusiness.com.
Slippery Rock University is Pennsylvania's premier public residential university. Slippery Rock University provides students with a comprehensive learning experience that intentionally combines academic instruction with enhanced educational and learning opportunities that make a positive difference in their lives.