Local District Action Inspired

Touch-screen kiosks are improving traffic flow and boosting sales at the Univ. of Tampa's Spartan Club—to the tune of 1,000 orders per day (20% more) and weekly sales exceeding $3,000.

Called Grill Online, the kiosk and ordering system feature uniquely designed menus, ordering screens and interactive assistance to customers placing orders for eat-in or take-out. Students can order everything from plain burgers to Buffalo and Cajun chicken burgers, chicken and cheese quesadillas, onion rings and fries, etc.

If you build it: The kiosk was so popular that a second one was soon installed to alleviate wait-times. Both were relocated from the ordering counters to a table 15 feet away, adjacent to the cashier. Officials at Sodexho, which runs foodservice at Tampa, say the kiosks help maximize the retail area's limited space.

Students can use their meal plan dollars for a pre-set combination meal, or pay with cash or credit cards. "We soon hope to accept payment at the kiosk," says Adrian Reyes of Sodexho.

Online ordering for Sizzling Salads, an entree salad concept, along with two national franchises is planned. "The technology is definitely customer friendly, entertaining, fun—not to mention cutting labor expenses by up to 9%."

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Orange County Community College in upstate New York is replacing its dining staff with vending machines , The Times Herald-Record reports.

The staff members, who will be let go in June, include nine full-time and three part-time workers. Students say they will miss the employees and the access to fresh food.

The Orange County Community College Association, which oversees the school’s cafeterias, says the layoffs were partly due to a $150,000 deficit accumulated by foodservice operations last year.

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Bates College in Lewiston, Maine, is eliminating paper cups in its Commons dining hall and has given each student a reusable stainless steel mug as a replacement, bates.edu reports.

The mugs were distributed via a promotion earlier this week where students could fill their new mugs with a free smoothie. Stickers and other trinkets were set out for students to use to “bling” their mugs.

Dining services turned to students to determine which type of mug would be offered. The college also installed a mug-washing sink in the dining Commons earlier this year.

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Compass has partnered with Jose Andres ’ ThinkFoodGroup, allowing the chef and foodservice vendor to collaborate at such venues as stadiums and college campuses.

“With this partnership, we have the opportunity to tell stories and connect with people through food on an entirely new level,” Andres said in a release.

The three-year team-up comes shortly after Andres opened a ThinkFoodLab pop-up in Washington, D.C., which will serve as a recipe R&D space for his restaurant group.

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