Campus dining provider pulls out of contract with University

The University’s campus dining provider has decided to end its relationship with GW after a little more than a year, according to a University release Monday.

Restaurant Associates, which took over as GW’s dining provider in August 2016, will terminate its contract at the end of this academic year, according to the release. The company has been overseeing catering and dining venues on the Mount Vernon Campus as well as catering for events in the Marvin Center for the last year.

Representatives from Restaurant Associates did not immediately return a request for comment.

Officials said the move is a chance to make changes to the existing dining plan, including turning Pelham Commons into an all-you-can-eat dining venue and hiring two different dining providers –one to oversee catering and another to manage dining venues on the Vern, according to the release.

Later this week, officials will begin soliciting offers for a new dining partner, which will operate Pelham Commons and Higher Grounds Coffee Shop and provide summer catering on the Vern. The University will ask interested contractors to provide proposals for an all-you-can-eat breakfast, lunch and dinner set up in Pelham Commons, moving away from the traditional a la carte system, according to the release.

The University will also seek a different set of proposals next spring for an on-campus caterer to manage events on the Vern during the academic year and year around in the Marvin Center. Officials said the new system represents a “more flexible model” that students, faculty and staff requested.

Alicia Knight, the senior associate vice president for operations, said the University “hopes the changes will enhance campus food offerings.”

“This change to our food service contract provides GW the opportunity to continue to evolve our dining program and make changes to the structure of our catering program to best meet the needs of the campus community,” she said in the release.

Restaurant Associates replaced GW’s former dining provider, Sodexo, last August after GW’s 10-year contract with the company expired in 2016. At the time, Sodexo submitted a bid to continue operating GW’s dining services, along with about four other providers.

Officials spent months evaluating proposals from different contractors – including distributing surveys and conducting student focus groups and interviews – before selecting Restaurant Associates.

The move coincided with the University’s overhaul of its campus dining plan, removing the only traditional dining hall on the Foggy Bottom Campus in favor of an open dining program relying on nearby vendors.

The new system has continued to come under heavy scrutiny from students and families who say it is not affordable.

Officials will work with leaders in the Student Association as the University switches providers, according to the release.

“We hope the changes will enhance campus food offerings,” Knight said. “We continue to strive to provide a flexible, personalized program that meets the broad needs of the campus community.”

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