The Grille Out, Urban Kitchen In: Rebranding Under Aramark

As the transition from Sodexo to Aramark continues, the Grille will face some changes. (Andrea Garcia/ The Fordham Ram).

As the transition from Sodexo to Aramark continues, the Grille will face some changes. (Andrea Garcia/ The Fordham Ram).

By Theresa Schliep

Retail locations such as Sub Connection in Queen’s Court and Zime in Faculty Memorial Hall are Sodexo brands and, consequently, will leave when the food service provider’s contract ends in June, according to Deming Yaun, dining services liaison.

For instance, instead of Sub Connection, Aramark has a sandwich concept that will likely replace the Sodexo retail location.

All changes to Sodexo brands must be completed this summer.

Yaun also said that Aramark plans on renaming “The Grille” “Urban Kitchen.” Despite this name change, Yaun said that, as the Grille is the most popular retail location on campus, many things will remain the same.

“The format will remain similar, popular menu items will remain very similar,” said Yaun.

Furthermore, Yaun attributed most of the delays in the Request for Proposal process to an increased campus dialogue on fair worker treatment.

“That revolved around making sure that the issue of employee fair treatment was being handled,” said Yaun.

He said as the importance of the issue grew more apparent, they had a series of meetings with the companies involved in the RFP process. Yaun said that their comfortability with Aramark and their ability and willingness to protect the employees was crucial in the decision process.

“There was a much stronger comfort level reached with Aramark,” said Yaun.

Food service workers will receive new training from Aramark, such as in training in food preparation and customer service.

“There will be a gradual absorption of Aramark culture into the staff,” said Yaun.

Yaun said there will also be an on-sight transition team, on-site operations team and a team at headquarters assigned to Fordham in aiding in the transition.

As Fordham begins transitioning from Sodexo to Aramark, multiple concerns will be addressed. These include student engagement and dining plans. Yaun also spoke on improving communications between the Fordham community and university dining.

“It became apparent through the RFP process that some student voices could have been better listened to,” said Yaun.

“Part of the transition is student engagement,” said Yaun. “Do I think there can be improvements in student engagement at the Rose Hill campus? I really do.”

Part of this student engagement was the Student Culinary Council (SCC). Since the SCC is a Sodexo committee, that group will be folded.

However, the university, student government and Aramark plan on creating another student group dedicated to dining services.

“We will be looking to Aramark and what is working at their other campuses,” said Yaun.

Karen Cutler, vice president of corporate communications at Aramark, confirmed via email that there will be a student advisory committee.

“I can also confirm that we will have a student dining advisory committee but there is not anything more specific I can share at this time, as we are still working on the contract,” said Cutler.

United Student Government senator Sara Brown, GSB ’19, said that student government will be involved in the process.

“Ideally, we would like to create a Dining Services Committee, which would be similar to what the Lincoln Center campus has with Sodexo now,” said Brown in an email interview. “This committee would help increase communication between the student body and Aramark. We want to ensure that the student body’s voice is heard during the transition so that the dining service provider has the best opportunity to improve student satisfaction.”

However, Brown said, “the transition process is just beginning.” USG is still waiting to receive more information from Aramark.

Also included in the transition are meal plans. Both the university and Aramark said that there will be no changes to meal plans in the coming year. However, dining services will be working with IT to look how to convert voluntary Declining Balance (DCB) to an Aramark equivalent system. When a student does not have a mandatory meal plan, DCB rolls over from one academic year to another.

Fordham University announced on April 18 that Aramark had replaced Sodexo as the university’s food service provider after a nearly five month bidding process.


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