With the beginning of a new year here at California State University, Monterey Bay (CSUMB), there have been many new changes. One of the most anticipated being that of the new dining service company that has made their presence on campus. The Lutrinae was fortunate enough to speak with Bob Dooley, the Resident District Manager for A’viands.
The Lutrinae: What is A’viands? How do you pronounce it? What does it mean?
A’viands: The typical way to pronounce A’viands is: Ah-Ve-On-ds. A’viands is a contract foodservice management company; we were selected as the CSUMB dining service partner this spring. Based in Minnesota, our company manages dining programs for clients in Higher Education, K-12, Corporate Dining, and Healthcare markets. Our primary partners are smaller to midsize campuses that the larger competitors are unable to serve with the same level of attention and flexibility
The Lutrinae: What does this company mean to you?
A’viands: Speaking personally, A’viands has provided me and many of my colleagues with incredible opportunities for both personal and professional growth. I started as a student intern during my Dietetic Internship at the University of South Dakota. During my tenure with the company, I have held numerous positions in different areas of the organization, which have allowed me to gain a better understanding of campus and university dining.
Being a midsized company, we can more easily make improvements and changes at the account level. We are given the tools to enhance what areas are working and improve or change things that are not. This has made working with A’viands a rewarding career for many of us on campus and within the company.
The Lutrinae: How is this food different from what we had before?
A’viands: As a food-focused company, we are committed to offering fresh and local foods throughout the year at our locations. We will also work to regularly update menus to ensure we are providing our guests with popular items, while also introducing new items.
The Lutrinae: What kind of service can we expect from A’viands?
A’viands: Our team is focused on providing exemplary service to provide a positive guest experience. Dining is more than just food; it’s an experience. Everything speaks – the food presentation, dining atmosphere, facility upkeep, and of course the service from our team members. Our goal is to make every interaction with an A’viands team member a positive and memorable one. Mealtime is often the highlight of our guest’s day, and it is our mission to make each visit the best it can be.
The Lutrinae: How are you trying to stand out from Sodexo, the previous catering company?
A’viands: We are working to improve the “personal touch” in all aspects of the dining program. We will bring more interaction between our team and the students, faculty and staff at CSUMB. We will continue to enhance our program throughout our partnership with the University. We will visit with students and survey the campus regularly to get feedback on what we can do better, or what parts of the program are favorites. A’viands understands that every campus is different, and we will work to align with the CSUMB culture.
The Lutrinae: What is new this year and what can students look forward to?
A’viands: A primary focus will be to improve the guest experience and create a culture of continuous improvement for the dining program. We will make adjustments in this first year to offer more variety and programming to keep dining exciting.
The Dining Commons will be open all day now with no closures Monday-Friday until after dinner. We will remain open after the typical lunch times providing options to our guests looking for something small, or even to just grab a bowl of cereal. Additionally, we will have a few new concepts in the Otter Express including our Grains and Greens concept, improvement to the Montes menu and style of service. There will be a noticeable change in the Library Café as we switch to a proudly service Verve coffee; a local coffee roaster based in Santa Cruz. We anticipate the upgrades to the Library Café will make it a popular destination on campus.
The Lutrinae: How have you changed the meal plans?
A’viands: All meal plans were finalized last year prior to A’viands managing the program. During the process of changing vendors, the University conducted committee discussions and identified best practices to determine the new direction for this year’s meal plans. The most noticeable change for this year will be the addition of the Unlimited Meal Plans for resident students. The Seaside 7 and Seaside 5 meal plans will offer unlimited access to the Dining commons throughout the day. A student can visit as many times as they wish throughout the day. This will be especially beneficial now that the Dining Commons will have continuous serving hours throughout the day.
The Lutrinae: What is the Otter cup and can I buy one without a meal plan?
A’viands: The Otter Cup is a complimentary mug that can be used at retail dining locations for a discount drink. The first 100 people to sign-up for the Otter Plan will receive the cup. The purpose of this giveaway is to promote the commuter meal plans to people on campus. We are looking into possible partnerships with other groups on campus to see if this program can be expanded.
The Lutrinae: Is there anything else that you would like students to know?
A’viands: Yes, A’viands is excited to be here as CSUMB’s dining service partner. We look forward to providing great meals and memorable experiences to the students, faculty, staff and guests on campus. I would also like to let students know that they can email me directly at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org if they have questions or concerns. Additionally as a Registered Dietitian, I will be offering free dietitian visits to all members of the CSUMB community. This can include questions about healthy eating, food sensitivities, restrictive diets, and even weight loss. Students interested in this service can set-up an appointment by sending me an email.