A Tale of Rivalry Dining Programs

Two days at competing colleges shows similarities in dining programs.

By 
Lindsey Ramsey, Contributing Editor

Rivalries are a tricky thing, especially in colleges. I graduated from the University of Kansas and the hatred for our bitter rival, the University of Missouri, was palpable from the day I set foot on campus. The rivalry has some interesting real world history involving the era known as Bleeding Kansas, slave state versus free state and the fact that Missourians once burned KU’s hometown of Lawrence to the ground.

So it was with a great swallowing of pride that I decided to arrange a tour of Mizzou, in Columbia, while I was going to be in the area for a family wedding last month. I decided the only way I could live with this decision was if I visited KU the next day. I had met and spoken with Julaine Kiehn, director of campus dining services at Mizzou, several times and I knew she ran a wonderful program that deserved attention. I had also met and written about Nona Golledge, director of KU Dining, and knew she had made great changes to KU since I had graduated (in 2006) that I wanted to see for myself.

My tour at Mizzou was first, and surprisingly, they didn’t instantly know when the “enemy” had entered the campus. What I found was a leafy campus with stately buildings, much like you find on many college campuses. As the day progressed I saw a very impressive operation, especially when I got to see first hand the great work the dining department has done at its new student center, which houses six restaurant-inspired concepts.  I got to taste tacos from the campus-favorite Baja Fresh and listen in on plans for an addition to an all-you-care-to-eat location. Everyone couldn’t have been nicer, even once they heard I hailed from KU.

When I met Nona at KU we first sat down to lunch at the new-to-me Impromptu Café, a sit-down restaurant at the Kansas Union that serves sandwiches, soups and salads. Nona then walked me through the major changes that have taken place since I graduated, which included a gut renovation that opened this year of the dorm and all-you-care-to-eat dining hall where I lived my freshman year, a new café at the school of pharmacy complete with retro-style soda fountain and updates to other retail areas The Underground and The Studio. The big project in the works is another gut renovation of KU’s signature all-you-care-to-eat facility, Mrs.  E’s. Nona showed me the plans for the location such as an improved flow and updated finishes, which should be completed next August.

What struck me about both tours was each department’s commitment to changing with their evolving customers. Both are in the midst or have just completed major projects, have a strong grasp of retail and manage themselves with notable efficiency and pizazz. So what started as a trip with heavy bias, ended with an equal admiration for each. When it comes to dining at these two institutions, we can leave the rivalry on the court.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
food symbols allergens

To make safe food as accessible as possible for our guests with allergies, we are creating an allergen-friendly kitchen this summer. Students and community members will be able to use our mobile app to place orders for allergen-friendly food and pick them up at the central kitchen. The kitchen will also produce grab-and-go options that will be distributed across campus.

Ideas and Innovation
construction plans drawing tools calculator

When revamping an old cafeteria or building a new retail spot, the design process can feel like fitting together the pieces of a puzzle: What needs to fit in the space, and what’s the most efficient flow for staffers, cooks, diners and more?

Cathy Estes, administrative director of nutrition services at four northern Indiana hospitals that are part of the Franciscan Health network, faced the creation of a new in-house dining program at Franciscan’s Munster hospital. Amid all the big plans, design was one of the largest undertakings.

“I was looking at 5,000 square feet on a...

Ideas and Innovation
amazon prime delivery

About 90% of our students receive financial assistance and participate in our free and reduced-price meal program. But a number of students in our district study remotely due to circumstances such as chronic illness. In January, we hired a driver to deliver meals to students who aren’t able to step into our cafeteria each day.

Ideas and Innovation
wheaton emerson int salad bar

Restaurant design is all about catching a customer’s eye —and it’s sometimes particularly beneficial to be far-sighted. As Airbnb has proven with its San Francisco headquarters, where cafe spaces are inspired by cities like Cairo and Mumbai, elaborate design schemes that evoke far-flung geographic regions can be done to great effect. But operators are finding simpler ways to achieve that feel.

That’s been the experience of Kutztown University Dining Services in Pennsylvania. Kent Dahlquist, director of housing and dining services, says that when the university decided several years...

FSD Resources