2009 Catering Survey: Catering's new reality

The economic picture may be bleak, but creative on-site catering teams are finding a silver lining amid the gloom using new marketing plans and refurbished menus.

Diversified efforts

Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, is also seeing some impact on its catering operations from the economic downturn, says Don King, assistant director of the Phillip R. Shriver Center for catering and retail sales. The former executive director of catering, King now oversees all catering and retail sales, which includes the food court, coffee shop, convenience store and restaurant. Miami’s catering business has two brands: Carillon Catering and Direct to You!, a delivery service.

“Our summer conferences suffered the biggest losses,” King says. “We’re currently about 9% off from last year.”

Yet, overall, foodservice operations saw positive year-end results for the fiscal year ending June 30. King says that’s due in part to his operation’s focus on diversification. Gains in programs like catering for fraternity and sorority houses and the surrounding community are helping insulate the business from the economic downturn.

“It would probably be a little worse if not for Direct to You! and our fraternity and sorority business,” King says. Direct to You! deliveries require a $75 minimum, although smaller orders can be picked up. Anyone using a university account to pay also receives a 10% discount. “Direct to You! sales have been up,” King says. “We’ve had more deliveries and drop-off catering. We’re seeing more box lunches.”

Popular deliveries include the “no frills” pasta buffet. Priced at $9.50 per plate—against the typical $12.95 options—the more affordable buffet includes penne with meat or garden marinara sauce, tossed salad with ranch or Catalina dressing, garlic bread sticks and cookies or brownies. Similarly priced at $9.95, the baked potato bar features a baked potato with choices of fillings: broccoli florets, diced tomatoes, Texas chili, cheese sauce, butter, sour cream, salsa and bacon bits. It too includes a salad and choice of dessert.

The box lunch menu is also becoming more popular. It includes a Seasonal Fruit Box at $10.50 featuring fresh-cut fruits, low-fat cottage cheese or fresh-made chicken or tuna salad, plus club crackers and a large apple bran muffin. All box lunches include a choice of beverage. The Create A Box offering, at a more frugal $8.95, starts with a choice of sandwich: smoked turkey and Swiss; ham and provolone; roast beef and cheddar; or hummus and muenster with roasted red pepper, served on asiago, multi-grain or white bread. Sides are seasonal fresh fruit, potato chips or pretzels and two Otis Spunkmeyer cookies.

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

In a bid to beef up its presence in sports arenas and a variety of other large venues, Sodexo will acquire foodservice vendor Centerplate for $675 million.

Sodexo says the deal, which is expected to be finalized by the end of this year, will more than double its global footprint.

Centerplate, which serves as the foodservice operator for a number for stadiums, convention halls and other event spaces, brought in revenues of $998 million for the year ending June 2017, according to Sodexo. Centerplate was purchased five years ago by Olympus Partners, a private-equity company...

Menu Development
eggs

Loyola University Maryland took a new approach to all-day breakfast with an egg-focused concept.

Breakfast options were top of mind for students when asked what they would like to see on the menu at the university’s revamped Boulder Garden Cafe. Instead of creating an all-day breakfast station, however, the Baltimore-based dining team went beyond traditional options and created a concept that services all mealparts with eggs.

“It can be somewhat mundane,” says Executive Chef Don Crowther on why the team strayed away from the trendy all-day breakfast. At the eatery’s Sunny...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Kansas has added a retail pass that allows students to purchase one to-go combo meal per day at cafes and markets on campus, the University Daily Kansan reports.

The pass is available on two different meal plans and is geared toward on-the-go students who don’t have the time to sit down and eat at a residence hall.

“It has increased the participation rate,” Jamie Reed, a service assistant for the school’s dining services, told the University Daily Kansan.

Over 1,800 students have used the pass since its debut at the beginning of the semester....

Industry News & Opinion

The University of Minnesota dining team has created a vegan student group in an effort to improve the school’s vegan offerings, Minnesota Daily reports.

The group was created by the school’s foodservice vendor, Aramark, and its campus sustainability coordinator, who is vegan, after receiving numerous complaints from students about the lack of vegan options on campus.

The group will this week host its first meeting, during which members will be able to share feedback and provide solutions to help enhance the school’s vegan offerings. Members will also keep a photo journal...

FSD Resources