September 27, 2021

Aramark replaces Parkhurst as campus dining service

Last week, Capital terminated its contract with Parkhurst Dining and chose Aramark as its replacement.

While Parkhurst’s contract went through June 2016, it included a clause to terminate sooner if the university deemed it appropriate and in the best interest of the student body.

Vice President of Business and Finances Dr. Mike Horan said student surveys indicated there needed to be a change in the type of food served.

“I started working here last October, and the first issues I heard about were complaints about food from students, faculty, and staff,” said Horan. “We found that there are not many vegan options or special dietary restrictions accommodations.”

According to Horan, Parkhurst was given a chance to present its vision for future food options, but Aramark presented a broader, more exciting proposal.

In exchange for the university’s change in food services, Aramark will be giving Capital $4.1 million. One million of this contract is an unrestricted gift, while the remaining  $3.1 million will go toward renovations and kitchen equipment.

“What really sold us was the fact that we can do more new and fun things for the same price,” said Horan. “Aramark will also be giving Capital $100,000 a year for ten years to ensure food and dining services remain fresh and different for students.”

In addition to longer hours, farm-to-market choices, and special dietary options, other major changes include removing the grill from One Main Café and implementing a Panera Bread concept to eliminate long lines.

The university also partnered with Columbus’s own Crimson Cup to redo the coffee shop in Saylor Ackerman to mimic a Starbucks Café feel.

“One of their biggest passions, the way they run their business is working really close with the farmers that they source from and go by fair trade practices. They’re really pushing the envelope with coffee, being innovative with cold brews,” said Mary Ellen Borchers, director of Business Services.

Both the One Main Cafe and Crimson Cup projects will be done by the time students return this fall.

As for future projects, Horan said his department will work with student government to agree on a vision for the Main Dining Room. These changes will be made over next Christmas break.

Meal plan rates will increase by four percent, but the current 225 meal plan will give students unlimited meal swipes with $50 in Capital Bucks. Crimson Cup (and eventually Einstein’s bagel shop) will be accepting Capital Bucks.

Borchers said other new meal plan rates will be rolled out as quickly as possible

On the topic of things that roll, Aramark plans to put an Einstein’s bagel shop in Blackmore Library next summer.

Horan said his department is also thinking about closing the food service of The Mezz, unless students are adamant about keeping it.

Of the 85 current Parkhurst employees, 50 have been contracted with Aramark, said Horan.

“Constructively, we are not allowed to hire the management staff,” said Horan.

Danae Shapman, a four-year Parkhurst employee, said the news shocked everyone, but she wasn’t surprised.

“It’s a business, so things like this happen. Parkhurst did everything they possibly could,” said Shapman. “I will miss my bosses and some of my co-workers, but I’m looking forward to working with Aramark. We’re already used to you guys, so it’s beneficial for Aramark to keep us.”

“They’re part of the Cap Family,” said Borchers. “They know you, you know them, they know what kind of coffee you like.”

Vice president of student government, Aaron Kraft, said he hopes that Aramark will allow Jennie Smith’s Food Committee to meet biweekly with Aramark’s branch manager and head chef to voice student interests.


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