In 2013 the University of Utah hired B&D to conduct a comprehensive foodservice master plan to assess its current on-campus foodservice operations and to provide recommendations on policy and facility offerings. The university’s student population had increased by more than 25% since 1998, outgrowing existing foodservice capabilities and sparking the need to re-examine the foodservice structure, controls, quality, and revenue opportunities. Work on this project began with a strategic visioning session with University administration. Focus group interviews with students, faculty, and staff were then conducted to understand experiences with, and preferences for, on-campus foodservice. An Internet-based student and faculty/staff survey was administered to help guide the final facility recommendations. To understand the non-university foodservice offerings available to students, faculty, and staff, an off-campus dining analysis was performed, through which we assessed the options and characteristics of nearby foodservice operations and determined how those facilities were utilized compared to campus offerings.
We identified demand for a new 300-seat food court dining facility, which would fulfill several campus dining needs, including lessening traffic, alleviating crowding, providing more variety and fresher foods, and capturing new campus diners. The proposed facility also would fill a campus-wide need for a commissary kitchen to accommodate a bakery, pre-packaged goods production, and catering needs. We sized the facility at 28,840 GSF and prepared a preliminary capital budget projecting a total project cost of $16.1 million, assuming a 2016 opening. Given the recent student enrollment spike, we further recommended creating a campus-wide foodservice director to oversee all foodservice vendors, control lease agreements, guide facility planning, and establish sustainability guidelines for all foodservice venues. A commissioned catering policy and event planning process also were recommended, which would reduce liability issues and increase revenue.