Travis Summers

USC's Travis Summers is currently the youngest of five senior managers who oversee all 41 USC Hospitality locations.

Why Selected?

Kris Klinger, director of dining services for USC Hospitality, says: Travis is currently the youngest of five senior managers who oversee all 41 USC Hospitality locations. Travis is responsible for more than 175 employees daily and is in charge of the remodel at the health sciences campus, which includes overseeing the construction of a full-service Starbucks, Panda Express and Poquito Mas. Travis also is in charge of The Lab Gastropub. Travis is an amazing person to work with, and I appreciate his mix of passion, intelligence and humility that makes him one in a million.


Senior Manager of Operations, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA
Age: 20
Education: C.A. in management in hospitality from The French Culinary Institute, New York
Years at organization: 2

Get to know

Q. What has been your proudest accomplishment?

Watching my staff grow into different roles and becoming great chefs and managers. For example, I had a guy who was an assistant manager at a single unit. I was able to get him to one of my venues that has five locations. My team actually groomed him, and he took over being a multi-unit manager about a month ago. We taught him how to work with different personalities.

Q. What's been the biggest challenge you've had to overcome?

Being young in this position and having managers older than me thinking that we can’t achieve the goals I had set for the team. I almost leave it up to them. I say, “This is what I’m thinking. Why don’t you come up with a game plan and tell me how you want to do it.” I’ve gotten a lot more respect.

Q. What's been your most rewarding moment?

Opening four venues in three months. I had three months to hire, train and open the concepts. The thing was, these concepts required seven weeks of training. Plus, hiring at a university is not easy. You have to do background checks, HR has to interview them and all the different managers have to interview them. I would never want to do it again, but I had a great team and we did it.

Q. What's been your funniest on-the-job disaster?

We were trying to set up a coffee kiosk during a remodel and we took the coffee cart apart and thought we could make it through the venue. We measured all the doors but one and it got stuck, so after all that hard work we realized the door we needed to use was right in front of us the whole time. We took it back out after 30 minutes of the cart being stuck and rebuilt the cart and got it through the door after two hours of sweating.

Q. What can you look back at now and laugh at?

When I was in a different position at USC, I sent an email to the director asking for more responsibility, and I sure got it. I bit off a little more than I could chew. I still have the email I sent and I look at it sometimes and laugh asking, “what was I thinking?”

Under 30

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation

When it comes to sustainability, sometimes the smallest kitchen changes can make the biggest difference. When Chris Henning, senior assistant director of dining services for the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, switched from standard latex gloves to nitrile gloves, he also set up a recycling program. Once recycled, the gloves are turned into playground equipment, bike racks and park benches.

Henning says the nitrile gloves have been a good fit for his department, both in terms of durability and cost. “Participating in the campus buying program reduces the cost, as [our]...

Ideas and Innovation
elderly old hands

A family’s request for at-home meal support for a patient at Lee Memorial in Fort Myers, Fla., led System Director of Food & Nutrition Services Larry Altier to uncover a gap in care. He saw that only 1% of patients had been coded (diagnosed and labeled for billing purposes) as malnourished, while more than 60% of all Lee Memorial patients are over 65 years or older, a population that experiences the issue at a higher rate.

His discovery helped more rigorously identify malnutrition, but it also strengthened Lee Memorial’s community connection. The hospital launched a delivery...

Ideas and Innovation
nutrition facts label

Despite operators’ attempts to communicate nutrition information to guests via cards and labels on the food line, many guests still feel they have no clue what’s in their food. University of Illinois food economist Brenna Ellison shares a few guesses as to why consumers ignore these signs following a recent study on their placement in dining halls.

Q: Who is most likely to read the cards?

A: Students who were already exhibiting more healthy behaviors. So those were the students who track their intake using an app or a food diary. After the first week, we found the rates of people...

Managing Your Business
studient orientation

When an alma mater and an employer are one in the same, it can be a win-win for both the employee and the school. Here’s how two students’ experiences with campus dining—one positive and the other negative—led them on a path to their current jobs.

A Feast to Remember

NC State University’s main campus in Raleigh, N.C. was built on farmland given to the state by Richard Stanhope Pullen; every spring, students gather to celebrate those agricultural roots through Farm Feast, an outdoor celebration with food and music. Design major Christin King remembers her first Farm Feast vividly: “...

FSD Resources