2014 Silver Plate: Kevin D’Onofrio
Published in FSD Update
Dedication to service, quality and the West Point cadets has kept D’Onofrio at the helm for a quarter of a century.
Like the honor of receiving the IFMA Silver Plate Award, not many can say that they have worked for the same organization since high school. But Kevin D’Onofrio, director of food service at the United States Military Academy, in West Point, N.Y., can.
“My career started when I was in high school. I started working here on weekends, cleaning tables, doing dishwashing and things,” he explains.
While attempting to establish a carpentry business after high school graduation, D’Onofrio increased his hours at his West Point job to help make ends meet. “And then it just went from running the sports bar to being the catering manager to going to the West Point Officers Club to be the assistant manager,” he says. Then in 1987, D’Onofrio set his carpentry business aside and stepped into the position of director of food service for the entire West Point facility.
Steps to success
During his 26-year tenure as director, D’Onofrio has taken the dining services arm of West Point from “$1 million in sales and losing money in 1987, to $9 million in 2013 and making a profit,” he says.
To achieve such figures, virtually every inch of the organization has been modified under his command, including renovations, changing service hours, updating menus to align with current trends and branding the department. “When I first took over in 1987, there were six different food establishments at West Point. When you were eating at any of the Culinary Group locations [Culinary Group is the name of West Point’s foodservice department] you really didn’t know you were eating there, so the first thing I did was [give it] its own identity by creating a logo. I wanted that recognition of what we did versus the other five or six [dining options] on campus,” he says. For example, a Burger King and Subway at West Point are run by the Army and Air Force Exchange Service.