2014 Silver Plate: Kevin D’Onofrio

Dedication to service, quality and the West Point cadets has kept D’Onofrio at the helm for a quarter of a century.

Published in FSD Update

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.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
ucmc model

With a budget and timeline in place, and the support of the university behind them, the foodservice team at the University of Chicago Medical Center was ready to get rolling with the renovation of one of its patient services kitchens. The facility, which services the hospital’s Center for Care and Discovery and Comer Children’s Hospital, was tripling in size to serve two additional patient floors, to the tune of $9 million. But that didn’t mean immediately jumping in with steel and screws.

“First, we cut out scaled pieces of paper and moved things around,” says Elizabeth Lockwood,...

Managing Your Business
pizza toppings

When the FoodService Director editors first started tossing around the idea of an “influencers” issue, our minds immediately turned to, well, foodservice directors. After all, so much of the learning in this industry is a peer-to-peer experience, and it’s your influence that inspires the content in every single issue of this magazine.

Then we imagined the massive infighting that would occur if we tried to whittle ourselves down to a list of just 20 influential operators and thought better of it. There’s already enough arguing for us to do about which pizza toppings are best (...

Ideas and Innovation
granola bars

Where possible, we make grab-and-go items reimbursable. For example, if we’re serving a fruit and milk smoothie, we let students take a granola bar or other grain component to make it count as a meal.

Ideas and Innovation
unsung heroes graphic

Febin Bellamy, a senior at Georgetown University, is the founder of Unsung Heroes, a nonprofit that features service workers on college campuses in man-on-the-street-style Facebook interviews. This year, Bellamy is working with a dozen schools to launch their own chapters of the storytelling platform. Here’s what he’s learned about staff shoutouts.

Q: Why did you decide to start Unsung Heroes?

A: One day I started a conversation with a custodial worker in the business school that I would see all the time. I learned that we had a lot of similarities; for instance, we both wanted to...

FSD Resources